Ambulance services report launched at University of Sheffield

A pioneering report reviewing the care given by ambulance services has been launched at the University of Sheffield.

Leading researchers from the University’s School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) contributed to the Care at the Scene review conducted by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Dissemination centre to assess the UK research on urgent and emergency care patients receive outside of hospital.

AmbulancesThe volume of 999 calls for ambulances has more than doubled in the last 10 years and in 2014-15 a record nine millions calls were received in England. At the same time there have also been parallel increases in other parts of the emergency care system with rising numbers of NHS 111 calls, Accident and Emergency department attendances and unplanned admissions to hospitals.

The role of ambulance services has changed radically over recent decades and they are now expected to provide high quality care and not just transport to the nearest hospital.

The majority of 999 calls are not traffic accidents or heart attacks but more typically involve people with complex and ongoing health problems experiencing a crisis – such as an elderly person with heart failure and diabetes having a fall, or someone with lung disease experiencing breathlessness.

Janette Turner, Reader in Emergency and Urgent Care Research at ScHARR, conducted a study used in the review examining why demand on the ambulance service has dramatically increased.

“It is well known that demand for emergency services is increasing,” said Janette.

“We know some of the reasons for this increased demand, reflecting wider pressures on health and care services.

“These include people living longer with the number of people over 75 attending Emergency Departments tripling over the last 20 years.”

She added: “Other factors include health needs such as chronic conditions, socioeconomic factors such as isolation and loneliness, lack of social support and deprivation and the supply of local services.

“There is little research overall in this area and the relationship between these and demand for services is not yet known.”

A number of ground-breaking studies conducted by leading academics from ScHARR are amongst 40 papers featured in the themed review of research funded by the NIHR in the last 10 years.

Suzanne Mason, Professor of Emergency Medicine at ScHARR, contributed her findings evaluating the impact of Emergency Care Practitioners in different UK health settings on patient pathways.

“In the past, ambulances transported all patients to hospital. Now some ambulances treat up to half of all 999 cases at the scene,” said Professor Mason.

“The change in the nature of work has been driven by rising demand and changes in technologies and remit, beyond immediate life-threatening conditions.

“At the same time, new specialist roles have developed requiring particular training and knowledge including advanced practitioners, who can assess and treat patients with minor injuries or conditions on the spot without necessarily referring them to other services.”

Professor Mason conducted the first national evaluation on the impact and cost effectiveness of advanced practitioners. The key findings showed that the care they delivered was safe and well-liked by patients and as good as the standard to which they were being compared. However cost savings may be limited to certain settings and services.

Other ScHARR researchers who also contributed to the report include Dr Rachel O’Hara, Colin O’Keeffe, Dr Emma Knowles, Professor Jon Nicholl and Professor Alicia O'Cathain.

More than 70 researchers, health care professionals and patients attended the launch of the report which took place at Firth Hall at the University of Sheffield on Wednesday (27 April 2016).

Additional information

For more information or to view the full report please visit: NIHR Dissemination Centre

To find out more about the School of Health and Related Research please visit ScHARR


For further information, please contact:

Shemina Davis
Media Relations Manager
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 5339