To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential risks of the long-term operation at Resource Escalation Action Plan Level Four of (a) the South Central Ambulance Service and (b) ambulance services throughout the country.
23 November 2021
NHS England and NHS Improvement advise that the long-term impact of ambulance services operating at Resource Escalation Action Plan (REAP) level four include impact on staff health and wellbeing and a reduction in normal levels of focus on transformation activities. To mitigate these risks, an additional £4.29 million has been made available to the South Coast Ambulance Service across a number of schemes including:
- Recruitment of 999 call handlers;
- Expanded capacity through additional crews on the road;
- Additional clinical support in the control room;
- Extended hospital ambulance liaison officer cover at the most challenged acute trust sites in terms of patient handover delays; and
- Retention of emergency ambulances to increase the fleet for winter.
This is supported by local work to minimise hospital handover delays and increase the amount of clinical decision support and referrals into other community and acute pathways to reduce pressure on the emergency care system. National initiatives are also supporting the reduction of pressures across the ambulance service, including £55 million additional non-recurrent revenue funding in winter 2021/22.
In addition, NHS England and NHS Improvement has invested £1.7 million into ambulance services in England in September 2021 to support local health and wellbeing initiatives in recognition of the current pressures. Each trust regularly reviews its REAP level and decisions to de-escalate from REAL level four will be made when performance and associated operational challenges return to normal levels.