ENGLAND – Ambulance wait times could be seeing a change of pace in England as plans were leaked to increase wait time for “Red 2” patients. Currently, the wait time for a “Red 2” patient is 8 minutes. However, the change would bring wait times for those “Red 2” patients up to 19 minutes. The change is being met with harsh criticism of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Hunt reserved that “no decisions” were made yet, but emphasized that the plans would ultimately only be agreed to if they shortened wait times for “Red 1” patients, or those with severe conditions.
The tiered system that exists put the most-extreme cases at “Red 1,” and includes ailments like choking, major bleeding, or cardiac arrest. While “Red 2” is reserved for less serious issues, but issues that are also life threatening. The concern is that while medical emergencies, like seizures and strokes – would be grouped into the “Red 2” grouping, which would include relaxed waiting times.
The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives has shown their support for the measure, which would move nearly 40% of Red 2 ailments, accidents, and responses increased to the 19 minute response time. The AACE noted in a statement that “They will expand the number and type of calls that come into the most serious category so that those who have life-threatening emergencies get an even faster response than is currently enjoyed.” While that guarantees some assurances with the changed program, and increased wait times, it doesn’t necessarily remove any doubt that’s involved.
When it comes to something as serious as this though, patients really don’t want to wait for any amount of time. Ultimately, people want an ambulance to reach every emergency as quickly as it can – but this plan works to ensure that those who do have truly life-threating ailments are treated as quickly as possible.
However, a trauma surgeon at NHS pointed out that “no such decisions have been taken on their proposals, nor will they be – one way or the other – until next year.” This is something that will need to see the politics played out, before anything significant can be set into motion. This though comes just a short amount of time after additional funding was authorized and gave ambulances £50 million to maintain operation through.