Pressure on ICU ambulance services reflects pressure throughout the system and emphasizes Pakistan’s growing demand.
We explain why the ambulance industry requires a seat at the table in national, regional, and local strategic planning and decision-making.
Over the last 18 months, ICU Ambulance Service has been under tremendous strain. The epidemic put enormous strain on the service, which has only increased since then, Ambulance services connect the entire country of Pakistan, acting as a link between primary, community, and secondary care. Ambulance services are under pressure, which reflects pressure throughout the system and highlights the growing demand.
Demand continues to rise:
Ambulance services across the country answered about 60% more calls between February and August 2021. Calls for the most urgent conditions, such as cardiac arrests, are putting a strain on ambulance services and other emergency services in Lahore.
While calls for more critical medical issues tend to dominate, many ambulance crews are also responsible for local calls, which climbed by 54% between February and July 2021. This steady rise in demand is a reflection of stress elsewhere in the system. We know, for example, that despite a substantial number of appointments scheduled in August 2021, there is unmet clinical demand for General Practice appointments.
How can systems assist Pressure on ambulance services?
ICU Ambulance services are more than just a mode of transportation. Their clinicians are highly qualified, skilled, and equipped to provide mobile treatment services, which include treating patients in their homes and communities and providing advice and referrals over the phone. They also offer specialized, typically multi-disciplinary team solutions, such as fall cars and mental health services.
Ambulance services are absorbing some of the increased demand, treating more people over the phone, and seeking ways to relieve pressure on other services at a time when Lahore sees unprecedented demand.
Pressure on ambulance services is a system problem, not just an ambulance one:
Patients continue to show up for scheduled appointments, so the ambulance service, which has a patient transport service arm, responds by delivering them to scheduled appointments like chemotherapy. The burden on urgent care facilities is increasing as Lahore strives to recover elective activity. Despite many trusts adding additional beds, there is little capacity in a stretched sector.
It is necessary to maximize potential.
ICU Ambulance service has the potential to revolutionize how patients access Lahore in many ways. They’ve demonstrated over the last 18 months that they can quickly modify their working methods, but they need the backing of the entire system to maximize their potential.
At the national, regional, integrated care system (ICS), and location level, we must ensure that the ambulance sector’s voice is heard in strategic planning and decision-making. The function of ambulances as providers of urgent and emergency care as well as care navigators, ensuring that individuals are treated in the appropriate place at the right time, has to be better understood. Every day, numerous care episodes are completed without the need for further referral, either on-scene or over the phone. Systems must also recognize the ambulance service’s historical underfunding and the potential to improve the way care is given. It requires a whole-system investment that builds on the lessons learned from the pandemic and complements the long-term plan’s ambitions.
The demand for ambulance services is at an all-time high, with no indications of slowing down. This isn’t just an ambulance problem; it’s a whole-system problem that requires a whole-system solution.