Commenting on NHS England’s proposed changes to ambulance response targets, Nuffield Trust Director of Research John Appleby said:
“The ambulance service is crucial to the smooth working of the NHS but it is clear that the existing set of targets have not been working well, either for patients or for staff. The measures announced today are therefore a common sense and evidence-based way to improve the way that patients are prioritised and ensure that their needs are met with the most appropriate response.
“However, we need to recognise that this shake-up is being proposed as the NHS is experiencing an unprecedented financial squeeze, significant staffing problems and growing demand for care - all of which make it harder for the health service to meet its targets.
“Our recent analysis of the ambulance service showed that pressures facing the ambulance service are growing at an even faster rate than those facing hospitals, and morale in the service is strikingly low. As well as implementing the sensible measures outlined today, managers in the NHS and politicians need to look seriously at the long term funding and staffing of the health service, and make improving the ambulance service’s poor morale an urgent priority”.