Ambulances are being despatched unnecessarily tens of thousands of times a year at the request of police officers in London, a new report has found.
In 2010-11 106,694 ambulances were requested by officers from London’s Metropolitan Police, equivalent to 10 per cent of London Ambulance Service’s workload. However, only 0.3 per cent of these were for life threatening incidents, according to the report from the London Assembly’s health and public services committee.
It has recommended the Mayor’s office for policing and crime reviews arrangements for dispatching ambulances between the Met and London Ambulance Service which currently bypass normal triage procedures.
The report said: “In summary, last year 300 ambulances were dispatched daily at police request, but only one of these was needed to save a life [each day].”
The report was produced following a strategic review of the future of the London Ambulance Service set up to consider the challenges facing the service and whether it would sit better as part of the Greater London Authority than the NHS.
After taking evidence the committee concluded th LAS should stay with the NHS but there should be closer working with the GLA and other emergency services which both should have a seat on the board of governors when LAS becomes a foundation trust.
The committee also recommended the capital’s three emergency services should begin a joint procurement for fuel and called on the mayor to review opportunities for LAS to share estate with the London Fire Brigade.
There are 70 ambulance stations in London, and 113 fire stations, worth approximately £80m and £283m respectively. Analysis by the committee found that 41 per cent of ambulance stations have a fire station within one kilometre.
LAS chief executive Peter Bradley said he was pleased the committee had agreed the service should stay in the NHS.
He added: “By working with the GLA, we hope more can be done to reduce the demand placed on our service by the Metropolitan Police Service. We have over 300 calls a day from the police requesting an ambulance, and, as recommended, we will work closely with the police to review this.
“The report recognises a lot of initiatives we already have in place. For example, we are working closely with our partners, such as other emergency services, to jointly purchase products or share facilities. As recommended, we will look at further ways we can work together to make efficiencies.”