A major reorganisation of the ambulance service will fewer 999 calls classified as a life-threatening.
The shake-up is considered the largest in 40 years of this critical aspects of the healthcare system, with the aim of reducing the number of incidents requiring a particularly rapid response.
NHS England has approved the new approach, with ministers signing off the new arrangement.
It is presumed that the new guidelines will result in approximately 8% of callouts being classified as requiring the quickest response from ambulances.
This is a massive reduction from approximately 50% currently.
And the authorities conclude that the majority of these incidents are in fact not particularly serious, and could be delayed until paramedics arrived on the scene.
NHS bosses suggest that the new approach will enable ambulances to respond to the sickest people and most serious cases with more rapidity.
They claim that the targets being used are “blunt” and “dysfunctional”, meaning that too many ambulances are dispatched to meet these targets rather than dealing with patient appropriately.
Medical experts have supported this change in policy, after a pilot scheme dealt with 14 million emergency calls over the last 18 months.
Evaluation by Sheffield University discovered that the new initiative will enable 999 calls to be dealt with more swiftly.
Prof Keith Willett, of NHS England, asserted that one of the problems with the current system was that crews were being unnecessarily dispatched to “stop the clock”.
“This has led to the inefficient use of ambulances, with the knock-on effect of hidden waits,” Willett explained.
It is expected that it will be possible to deal with 90% of calls within 15 minutes as a result of the new policy.
College of Paramedics chief executive Gerry Egan indicated that he was “fully supportive” of the move.
“It is vital to patient care that paramedics are targeted to the most appropriate patients,” Egan commented.
And Juliet Bouverie, of the Stroke Association, also suggested that the new initiative should be beneficial for patients.
“Under the current system, the first responder to a stroke patient could be on a motorbike – but this vehicle can’t transport the patient to hospital meaning they have to wait even longer for an ambulance to arrive. By allowing ambulance call handlers a little more time to determine what is wrong with a patient, it ensures that stroke patients can be identified and the right vehicle sent out immediately to get the patient to a stroke unit.”