New Ambulance design the carter report

Branch Health & Safety Officer Report – December 2018

New Ambulance Design / Carter Report

In November 2018 the NHSI (NHS Improvements) held a meeting with an invited guest list to consider a “standard” ambulance design for every ambulance service in the UK. Each service was invited to send two guests and to take their designed ambulance forward for consideration. In a nutshell, our latest ambulance which is currently on the production line was specifically excluded from the assessment process (nobody was even allowed to view it) and as a result NHSI is moving forward to introduce a van-conversion ambulance for all services with effect from Monday 1st April 2019. This is not a wind up or an early April Fools joke; it is reality.

Despite lengthy discussions having taken place between NHS Improvements and AACE, there has been no active engagement with Unison, however a consultation period is now open until 1st February 2019.

The London Ambulance Web Site has the following information:

It has recently come to our attention that there are plans to move to a single national fleet model.Just to be clear, the proposed changes, subject to the consultation outcome, would come into force for any new ambulance purchased from 1 April 2019. To summarise – NHS Improvement are consulting over the standard specification for an emergency DCA. (Double crewed ambulance) https://engage.improvement.nhs.uk/operational-productivity-comms/english-nhs-ambulance-vehicle-spec/

There is no, one vehicle manufacturer that has been mandated, however they are considering mandating black box technology. They are proposing moving to a van conversion – as they believe they are economically better value and there have been no particular issues raised in services where they use them. However, if a service wants to deviate from the van conversion design they can but they will need to supply evidence to the commissioners. I would like to point out that NHS Improvement and AACE have collaborated over this piece of work but up to now the unions have not been involved.

I’m sure this will create some interesting debate over the coming weeks. The consultation is open until 1 February 2019 so UNISON’S ambulance occupational group will need to decide how best to respond in the New Year. Our branch will be impacted by this change, so we will be speaking to our organisation and considering a response by our branch and by our members who use them.

The Carter Team have offered to engage with branches and hopefully will be invited to the next UNISON Ambulance Operational Group early next year.

For now, please can you pass this message on and ensure people are aware of the consultation. Please gather views on the impact of these changes and to help us with a response to be collated in the New Year.

I would suggest that if a service is happy with their current van conversion ambulance which is based upon a smaller, out dated design with a cramped interior, then that is their choice.

The Lord Carter report states that there must be no unwarranted variations to the single ambulance design. However, the consultation and development process employed by our service has clearly shown that our new ambulance model has warranted changes which include a reduction in weight,better emissions, improved fuel economy and lower running costs. With a lower all up weight the brakes will last longer and there will also be no need for twice yearly off the road servicing of the tail lift which has been removed. Most important of all, the entire design has focussed on staff & patient safety.

Forward facing seats with three point seatbelts so that the clinicians do not have to stand up to treat their patients whilst the vehicle is in motion; a clinical seat on either side of the stretcher with a third seat at the patients head end so that a three person medical team can work on a critical patient; or a social worker and Police Officer can sit either side of a mental health patient, or a worried parent can sit one side of a juvenile patient while the child is being treated by the clinicians on the other side. A powered self-loading stretcher further reduces any risk of injury to the clinicians. From blank paper to the production line the new ambulance has been created as a Safety-First ambulance.

There cannot be a “one model suits all” ambulance because the different ambulance services operate in totally different environments, variable landscapes with different travel distances to hospital emergency rooms.

It is crucial that our clinicians who work in ambulances on a day to day basis engage in the consultation process and make their views known so that Unison can respond on their behalf to ensure that our service remains empowered to provide an ambulance to our crews that not only meets the criteria of The Lord Carter report but also encompasses the warranted changes necessary for our clinicians to work in safely for long distances over protracted periods with the latest equipment and technology.

If you want to safeguard the design of ambulances that you will be required to work in, then I strongly advise you to follow the link and make your voice heard.

Jeff Pittman

East of England Ambulance Unison