Ambulance stats not so impressive - after-hours GP

Last updated 10:32 06/11/2012

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A study which purports to show the superiority of paramedics treating after- hours patients in fact shows they fall far short of the Kenepuru Accident and Medical (A & M) standard, doctor Rob Kieboom says.

An Otago University study, led by Wellington Free Ambulance's executive manager of clinical services Sarah Hoyle, has found 74 per cent of Kapiti patients were taken to hospital after being seen by a regular emergency ambulance, which fell to 40 per cent when an "extended care" paramedic answered a call.

The researchers looked at 1000 cases attended by paramedics in Kapiti over a 10-month period.

Wellington Free Ambulance says the research results support the use of paramedics for after-hours emergency care.

The Wellington Free Ambulance paramedic after-hours scheme is likely to be rolled out to Porirua mid-2013.

The study doesn't compare apples with apples - the after-hours paramedics don't see the same emergency patients as regular ambulances do, Dr Kieboom says.

The 40 per cent of patients taken to hospital does not impress Dr Kieboom.

"The overnight referral to Wellington Hospital for patients seen overnight by the Kenepuru A & M service, from my experience, is less than 10 per cent," he says. "Why haven't we been trumpeted for keeping 90 per cent of patients out of hospital?"

The study is an own-goal for Wellington Free Ambulance, Dr Kieboom says.

"In other words, the A & M centre provides a much more capable, safe and competent service than roving paramedics.

"This is a disaster for the patients and the Wellington ED [emergency department]. This totally confirms how inferior the proposed service will be for the people of Kapiti down through to Tawa."

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