I have a theory, possibly saving the ambulance service from crashing and burning at some point in the future.
There are a large number of patients that I go to where they essentially want a free taxi to hospital, sometimes they call an ambulance because they think that they will be seen quicker than if they arrive under their own power.
I've lost count of the number of times someone a relative has 'followed up the ambulance' in their own car when our patient has an incredibly minor illness is in the back of my van.
It'd be a fairly simple system to set up, all you'd need is a copy of the Yellow pages.
It would start in Control, the calltaker would take the patient's name and address, they would then determine if the patient has anything seriously wrong with them, like they aren't breathing or a leg has suddenly dropped off.
The calltaker would then read out the following bit of text.
“By getting an ambulance you will not be seen any quicker in A&E. All our ambulances are busy dealing with emergency cases at the moment, would you be happy with a free taxicab? You will likely get a taxi quicker than you will an ambulance.”
If the patient agrees then the calltaker, or a newly delegated (and even more poorly paid) role, then looks for the closest minicab firm in the Yellow Pages and arranges it for them.
There are various figures for the cost of running an ambulance to a job, it's normally pegged around £400. Wouldn't paying for a minicab save the NHS a lot of money?
And if we start supplying minicabs with disposable seat covers they could also deal with the vast majority of our Friday night clientele.
Of course, this is somewhat similar with what we are trying to do with the fleet at the moment – reduce the number of 'proper' ambulances and replace them with single-personed people carriers who can take the walking wounded to hospital. Of course, that costs a lot more money…
I, however, am not mad.
A perhaps more sensible suggestion would be to team up a paramedic with a police officer and have them assess all assaults that don't obviously need an ambulance – things like simple cuts and the like because at the moment we send an ambulance to these. Actually we often also send a FRU because the call gets categorised as 'Possible Serious Bleeding”.