Trial aims to reduce late finished for DSA and RRVs

Ambulance line up blue sky

Earlier this year a working group was set up to look into a range of operational processes (e.g. end of shift, cross-border deployment, meal breaks) with a view to reducing the negative impact these can have on the wellbeing and safety of road staff.

Particular concerns for road staff are late finishes (especially when long/frequent) and out-of-area working, especially when this contributes to late finishes and long, late and potentially fatigued drives back to base. The working group will be running their first trial in August, and it is expected that this will be the first of a series following a QSIR/PDSA process.

When and where is the trial taking place?

The trial will take place for four weeks from 2 August 2021 in two dispatch groups: West Norfolk and West Hertfordshire. It will involve all emergency ambulances, RRVs, scheme cars and LOMs in these localities.

What is being trialled?

The trial is of new timings for end-of-shift and the categories of calls to which crews and solo responders can be assigned: crews will be unavailable, except for confirmed cardiac arrests, for the last 30 minutes of their shift.

What is the purpose of the trial?

The primary purpose of this trial is to reduce the frequency and length of late finishes. It is based on a similar trial undertaken by London Ambulance Service in 2018 which showed a reduction in late finishes, a positive reaction from staff and no significant reduction in resource availability or patient safety. Feedback from staff suggests a lack of confidence in the protections provided by the current end of shift policy and it is hoped that extending their protection to responding only to confirmed cardiac arrests could help facilitate increased confidence and culture change.

What are the expected benefits?

As mentioned above, the main expected benefit is a reduction in the frequency and length of late finishes. Other anticipated benefits include:

  • Improvement in road staff well-being due to reduced impact of late finishes on personal lives.
  • Reduced fatigue and, consequently, improved staff safety.
  • Reduction in late starts and thus better resource availability at shift start due to:
    • oncoming crews less likely to have to wait for a returning vehicle.
    • fewer crews coming in late for their following shift.
  • Time available for off-going crews to ensure vehicle is ready for the next shift.
  • Reduced frequency of oncoming crews needing to go OOS to restock/refuel or deal with vehicle maintenance problems.
  • Associated cost reduction in reduced incidental overtime generated from late finishes.
  • Improved ‘handover to clear’ (HTC) times.

Want to know more? Got a question? Got feedback?

There will be specific briefings for those involved in the trial, i.e. road staff and managers in the trial areas and all AOCs. Visit the trial ‘FAQs’ here.

Email the trial leads at  

The trial team will be implementing a range of methods to gather qualitative feedback from road and AOC staff.


Published 15th July 2021