Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Ambulance staff given response time

Ambulance workers must respond to life-threatening emergencies such as heart attacks within eight minutes, a watchdog has said

Ambulance workers must respond to life-threatening emergencies such as heart attacks within eight minutes, a watchdog has said.

For the first time in Ireland, paramedics will have to publicly report the time it takes them to reach patients with potentially fatal conditions.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), the health service watchdog, said setting benchmarks can help improve response times.

HIQA director Jon Billings said ambulance staff are expected to act on the new targets immediately, with monitoring to begin later this year.

He said: "Historically, the absence of such a system in Ireland has been a major gap in what is needed for a safe, good quality emergency response service."

HIQA said it initially wanted to see trained paramedics on the scene of life-threatening cases, including cardiac or respiratory arrest, within the eight-minute deadline in at least three-quarters of all call-outs.

The new targets are expected to require an overhaul in how ambulance services are organised.

"Once the Health Service Executive (HSE) has brought in the necessary changes, it will be expected to show yearly improvements in response times.

Mr Billings added: "A timely pre-hospital emergency team response to acute medical events, such as patients suffering from heart attacks, is known to improve the outcomes for patients.

"Experience in other jurisdictions shows that putting in place approaches to achieve these targets requires ambulance services to review how they provide the overall service and can result in widespread improvements in emergency care."

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