The Government must “urgently clarify” commissioning arrangements for rural ambulance services, the network representing the trusts involved has said.

In a new report, the NHS Confederation’s Ambulance Service Network welcomes the move from time targets to outcomes, but says the current arrangements risk confusion and conflicting priorities.

Ambulance Service Network director Jo Webber said: “Ambulance services are hopeful that new performance measures based on outcomes will help them by focussing effort on the care patients receive rather than solely on how quickly ambulances get to them.

“But, to make this all work, we have to have clarity on how ambulance services are commissioned. At anyone one time, an ambulance service might simultaneously be asked to attend to a national emergency, deal with a motorway traffic accident and run services for older people who have fallen over.

“In each instance, different bodies are responsible for commissioning ambulance services to respond to these different situations. If these commissioning bodies are not aware of each other or how resources might need to be brought in from elsewhere to meet different priorities then it will be much harder to ensure that patients get access to the response they need.”

She added: “As GP commissioners get up and running and the commissioning board starts its work, the Government needs to provide the NHS with clarity on how this is all going to work. Otherwise, patients risk getting lost in a more complex, fragmented and more expensive system.”

Author's Bio: 

Roy Rowlands writes for National Health Executive an essential guide to health service managers offering a wide view of healthcare news, views and opinions