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To evaluate a new service development whereby a nurse and a paramedic working in partnership attended non-urgent emergency calls.
The demand for emergency ambulance services both nationally (in the UK) and internationally has been steadily increasing. A large proportion of calls made to the emergency ambulance service are classified as non-urgent. An alternative response to these calls may release the standard ambulance service to attend more urgent calls. A pilot project was initiated in order to provide an alternative response to non-urgent emergency calls in an Ambulance Trust in England with support from the local Primary Care Trust. This alternative response comprised a district nurse or an emergency nurse practitioner dispatched with a paramedic to visit low-priority emergency calls. The pilot service was trialled during a 15-week period in 2003–2004.
This paper evaluates the cost effectiveness of the pilot service by examining both the resource use and the outcomes of the service.
It was found that introducing this service to the current provision would increase the overall cost to the ambulance services. However, a reduction in conveyance rate to the hospital was observed as people could be treated on-scene. A reduction in conveyance rate to the hospital would lead to reduced admissions to accident and emergency departments and subsequent hospitalization. This paper provides an indication that further development of this type of service has the potential to be cost effective, if the wider health care economy is considered, as the cost savings made in secondary care could more than balance the costs to the Ambulance Services in providing such a service.
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