Feeds

NAO calls for new ambulance data systems

Targets mean multiple call-outs

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Ambulance services need to develop data systems and procedures quickly, so organisations can collect and share information to measure performance, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).

The auditor's new report, Transforming NHS Ambulance Services, says this is one of the measures needed to make poorly performing trusts more efficient. While it focuses on the implications of the eight minute response target for seriously ill patients, it includes recommendations on the use of data to improve outcomes.

The report says the service collects a wide range of performance data, but that the NHS Information Centre requests different interpretations, different dispatch systems are in use, and ambulance services define some metrics differently. The ability of services to generate performance information, and the quality of data on treatment costs, is also variable.

Some commissioners have specified a minimum dataset within their contracts, but there is no standard set across the service, which makes it difficult to benchmark performance against that of other trusts.

In addition, no ambulance services can accurately identify the final treatment pathway of the patient, and are therefore unable to monitor how well they are doing in taking people to the most appropriate places of care.

The report says they need to develop data systems that can link different organisations. Developing the systems would help to provide a fuller measurement of performance based on outcomes.

Electronic patient record forms, which are being trialled in some parts of England and have been used by the Scottish Ambulance Service since 2008, can make it easier to share information and track patients through the system. However, there have been problems with the interfaces between different hospital systems.

The report points out the wide differences in cost per incident between trusts, and says that if all 11 adopted best practice being used in at least one it could save the NHS £165m a year.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: "The time taken to respond to calls has until recently been the be all and end all of measuring the performance of ambulance services. Illustrating the principle that what gets measured, gets done, the result has been a rapid response to urgent and emergency calls. However, this led to an increase in the number of multiple responses to incidents equating to millions of unnecessary ambulance journeys.

"It is welcome that the (health) department has now introduced new measures and a new broader performance regime but improvements to the whole urgent and emergency care system will depend on its working more coherently."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Redmond resists order to hand over overseas email
Court wanted peek as related to US investigation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?