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Key communications technologies that could save money for ambulance services whilst improving service delivery

07 January, 2015

In a new paper Airwave’s independent advisor on ambulances Hayden Newton calls for the development of a mission-critical 4G network with a dedicated spectrum that would enable blue light users to harness new technologies.

The Future of the Ambulance Service charts the likely changes of the next five years and predicts some of the new technologies that could become part of the day-to-day paramedic’s arsenal.

The paper acknowledges the role that Airwave’s network has played in improving the emergency services’ ability to jointly respond to an incident, and outlines how the next step is to develop LTE as a mission-critical system with dedicated spectrum for the blue light users, to ensure that they ‘do not have to fight for bandwidth at times of critical operational or safety need.’

Body-worn video

With a large proportion of emergency calls being responded to by a single response vehicle with a solo paramedic assessing the patient and deciding on the most appropriate care, Hayden predicts body-worn video cameras would help clinicians link patients to a more senior or specialised practitioner so that telemedicine could be undertaken to more accurately triage the patient.

BWV would also provide the additional dimension to enhancing staff safety, for those staff deployed alone to challenging, unpredictable emergency situations.


Telemedicine could establish video links between a frontline paramedic and GP or major trauma centre, bringing health and social care worker together through better flows of data and information on the same communications system.

According to Hayden, telemedicine has the potential to reduce admissions; with a 1% reduction having the potential to save the NHS £1 million.

The mobile workforce – through smartphones

New smartphone-style devices could reduce administration costs, improve accuracy and streamline services without compromising quality and patient safety.

In addition, a handheld mobile device could not only reduce paperwork and duplication, but also contain clinical guidelines, all forms relevant to patient assessment and referral, as well as the ability to access all health and social care databases.

Vehicle video technology

Currently each of the UK’s 14 ambulance services covers on average 100,000 miles a year, with associated risks in terms of road accidents having a knock-on effect on vehicle insurance costs. Improving accuracy around insurance claims would produce financials savings for the NHS.

Transforming major incident management through LTE

LTE would enable live video streaming to the Emergency Operations Centre, meaning more precise information could be delivered about an incident.

Clinicians would know where other vehicles in a sector were and what situation they were dealing with. It would support more sophisticated inter-operability between ambulance service resources.

Hayden Newton, who was CEO of the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) for six years until early 2013, and was President of the British Association of Public Communication Officers, concludes in his paper: ‘Ambulance leaders should not lose sight of the tremendous progress made around clinical training and education, vehicle design, mutual aid, resilience and emergency preparedness. However, financial constraints placed upon the public sector mean that the ambulance service need to work smarter to consistently deliver high quality, cost effective services against ever-changing demands. New technology will assist the ambulance service in rising to these challenges.’

To download the full paper click here:

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