Independent Ambulance Association calls for stronger independent sector

The Independent Ambulance Association (IAA) has published a report calling for a new style of specialised ambulance service.

Distributed to all MPs and Peer, the report—entitled The Vital Link—proposes that commissioners split large contracts into smaller lots to create specialist innovative services for emergency mental health, falls and bariatric patients, and to encourage more cooperation between the public and private ambulance providers.

‘Our vision is of a market where NHS, independent and charity services can compete fairly for all types of ambulance work, in an environment which encourages high standards of patient care, exemplary safety records, and good value for money for NHS commissioners and other buyers of ambulance services.’

In the report, the IAA highlights its belief in the value of having providers from multiple sectors in the ambulance market, as it feels NHS commissioners will need to use a mix of providers in order to provide the service that their patients need and want.

It also calls for the closing of the loophole in the law which enables unregistered “cowboy” companies to provide ambulance cover at private events, and seeks the tightening of the DVLA system which enables unregistered ambulance companies to unfairly claim exemption from vehicle exercise duty.

The IAA says that independent ambulance companies make a vital contribution to the nation’s healthcare economy, and that many critics do not realise that the NHS doesn’t (and couldn’t) provide all these services.

The report goes on to dispel some of the most frequent myths about independent ambulance companies, such as that they are motivated by profit and that private ambulance staff are not as well trained as their NHS counterparts, instead illustrating how they represent a “vital link” in the provision of care.

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 26 November 2013.

First national training framework for independent paramedics

On 18 October 2013, preliminary details of the first national training framework for the independent ambulance sector were announced.

According to Anita Human, chair person for the Independent Ambulance Association (IAA), ‘The framework is needed as a matter of priority to help tackle the confusion for commissioners and regulators in the qualifications within the sector.’

The IAA has set up a special members’ working group for the framework; the members cover a representative spread from events to NHS suppliers, and include patient transport services (PTS), intermediate tier and frontline providers.

The specialists are a range of paramedics, nurses, driving tutors and educationalists.

Ms. Human, who chairs the group, said the framework will be ‘voluntary, coherent, consistent and coordinated, pulling together the training standards and therefore improving quality across the independent ambulance sector.

It will be linked to those of NHS Trusts to create equality and include driver training, event staff, PTS staff, non-professional clinical staff, instructional staff, professional clinical staff and CPD. It will be made up of “building blocks” of courses that are in current use, both accredited and non-accredited, and will also establish EPL/APL routes to qualifications within the framework.’

The group will champion local training and standards improvement initiatives, encouraging integration in the wider strategic vision and business plans of individual members. It will also consider setting up a training standards committee to monitor provision and liaise accreditation bodies and relevant government agencies.

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 23 October 2013.