NIHR Themed Review Care at the Scene - research for ambulance services

Published on 9 May 2016

The role and the scope of ambulance services has changed radically over recent decades. The ambulance service is now expected to provide complete pre-hospital care. The majority of 999 calls are not traffic accidents or heart attacks. More typically, calls involve people with complex and ongoing health problems experiencing a crisis. This could be an elderly person with heart failure and diabetes having had a fall, someone with lung disease experiencing breathlessness or a person at risk of suicide ringing in distress. Care at the Scene brings together recent research evidence on urgent and emergency care, focused on the ambulance service. Almost 40 studies are featured in this themed reveiw (22 completed, 17 ongoing) which were funded by the NIHR in the last ten years. The report looks at ambulances in the wider urgent care landscape; decision-making, workforce and patient experience; and clinical interventions in pre-hospital care. The review also asks how ambulance services can make better use of evidence and support research to drive improvement.

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