If you think targets don’t influence service design

A great programme from The Report on BBC Radio 4 from 17th Dec 2009 on how response times targets for ambulance services are distorting service design to concentrate resources too much in cities and towns and to have too many single responder vehicles that send a single paramedic that can’t carry patients rather than a full ambulance to too many cases.

Plus, where does the 8 minutes come from in the first place?



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  1. marksany -

    In August 2008 I had a cardiac arrest. I would now be dead if a first response paramedic did not get to me inside 8 minutes. That's where it comes from. Having saved my life with a defibrillator, I was able to wait until a full size ambulance arrived to take me to intensive care.

  2. Rob Worth -


    Thank you for commenting and I am glad that in a terrible situation you got the response that helped you.

    And I am certainly not against single responder vehicles, unless their deployment is not to meet demand but rather to help hit arbitrary targets.

    The programme has several stories that tell of the opposite experience.

    But we must always remember that individual stories are only one very limited source of data however tragic or otherwise. This goes for the negative stories in the programme too.

    The telling parts in the programme are when staff and former staff state that they are sure that the setting of target are distorting the service so that the targets are hit to the detriment of the health of the public.

    I'll wager that without targets we could have even more stories like yours.



  3. linkmaster -

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