The outcomes focus of the new ambulance clinical indicators will help improve services for patients in rural areas, according to a new report by the Ambulance Service Network.

The report, An Involving Service, found patients in the most rural areas could expect a response to a category A life threatening call within eight minutes 70 per cent of the time, compared to 79 per cent of the time in the most urban areas.

Under the new clinical indicators, ambulance services are still required to attend the most life threatening calls within eight minutes but are also measured against six clinical quality indicators including survival rates following cardiac arrests.

The report suggests ambulance services form partnerships with other organisations in rural communities, such as pharmacies, schools and councils, to reduce the need for additional investment in rural ambulance services by sharing “resources, knowledge and capabilities”.

It also recommends ambulance professionals be included in local clinical networks to influence the design of services.

Examples of partnership schemes include the placing of automated external defibrillators in public places such as parish councils and post offices to be used by members of the public before ambulance crews arrive, improving chances of survival. North East Ambulance Service Foundation Trust has collaborated with a Northumberland GP to site a community paramedic at a surgery who is on duty 24 hours a day.

Network director Jo Webber said ambulance services were hopeful the new performance measures would help improve the quality of care patients receive but said there was an urgent need for the clarity on how services are commissioned.

“Sorting all this out is a complex task but the potential rewards of a properly joined up system that focuses on high quality care regardless where you live are great,” she said.