AN ambulance service for Wales that excludes the word ‘ambulance’ in its title will be potentially confusing for the public it intends to serve, Gwent health chiefs have warned.
A name change for the existing Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust is proposed in a series of changes to the way emergency ambulance services are provided, and to the trust’s role.
But the Welsh Government consultation document on the proposals suggests renaming the trust the Welsh Emergency and Clinical Services NHS Trust.
It states that health minister Mark Drakeford “believes a name is required that better describes the emergency response and clinical service” that would be provided by ambulance staff who will be expected to assume a wider range of responsibilities and skills.
But Aneurin Bevan Health Board, which is among a range of organisations invited to respond to the consultation document, has concluded that “renaming of the organisation to the Welsh Emergency and Clinical Services NHS Trust will potentially add more confusion for the public, not less.”
Its response continues: “This name does not clearly convey to the public what services it provides and confuses the service with other areas of NHS care.
“The title could be viewed by the public as jargonistic and does not clearly indicate what it is there to do,” the response added.
The board considered whether the name change is needed to provide clarity for patients, or for sections of the NHS services involved, to encourage changes in behaviour and approach needed to improve emergency ambulance services.
“If it is the latter, consideration must be given to patient and public views and using a service name that will make sense to the public and ensure they know what services they need to access, when they need them,” states the health board’s consultation response.
“If the name change goes ahead it is anticipated that it will be the only organisation of this kind in the United Kingdom that does not have the word ‘ambulance’ in its title,” pointed out the board.
“Therefore, alternative views from the health board regarding a name include the Welsh Emergency Ambulance NHS Trust and Emergency Ambulance Response Service.”
Other proposed changes include giving responsibility for commissioning ambulance services to a new committee, to include health board chiefs and a chief ambulance services commissioner.
Gwent health chiefs welcome this as a means to rethink the provision of ambulance services across Wales.
But they warn that the proposal will require strong governance and monitoring, and want clarity about how patients’ and public concerns are reflected in committee decisions.