Reassurance to call handlers following press

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Chief Executive Officer Robert Morton gives reassurance to the Trust's 999 call handlers following negative national media coverage at the weekend. 

On Sunday, 24th September, the Mail on Sunday published this story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4913018/999-call-handlers-asking-public-perform-CPR-deceased.html

The triage categorisation of the Trust's 999 calls is determined by the Clinical Code Set approved by the Department of Health. This Clinical Code Set will change in October to reflect ARP requirements which as you know we are required to introduce before November 2017.

When call handlers take a 999 call triaged as a patient in cardiac arrest (unresponsive and not breathing), they deliver immediate and sometimes lifesaving emergency care over the phone referred to as Pre Arrival Instructions (PAI). PAIs and Post-Dispatch Instructions (PDI) are viewed as an important part of the chain of survival for victims suffering out of hospital cardiac arrest.

The scripts used are drawn from the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS) which both the Trust and services in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and five other Trusts in England use or are transitioning to. 

MPDS is accredited by the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) and is used in over 7,000 ambulance control centres worldwide, including much of the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  Our call handlers work is amongst the most audited in the ambulance sector to monitor their compliance with MPDS protocols, all of which are individually and medically accredited before being adopted by the IAED.

As an ambulance Trust, we must presume that anyone dialling 999 in relation to a person whom is unresponsive and not breathing, is doing so to seek emergency medical assistance, i.e. to attempt to save their life. In this context, it is right for our call handlers to deliver PAI and/or PDI in cases of cardiac arrest.  All changes to these processes to date have been evidence based and medically approved and we anticipate any future changes will follow that same process.

This Trust will continue to support our call handlers whom work hard every day to save lives by effective triage and delivering lifesaving advice and emergency care over the phone pending the arrival of our emergency responders.

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