Alderney ambulance service ‘unsustainable’

CHANGES to Alderney’s Ambulance Service are to be discussed next week after an independent review found it to be operating inadequately and unsustainably.

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‘It hangs together on good will and a team esprit de corps (mutual loyalty) that goes way beyond any expectations that you could request of a volunteer team and a single paramedic providing a clinical oversight to the team on a 24-hour, seven- day-a-week basis,’ the report from the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives states.

General Services Committee chairman Boyd Kelly said its members have agreed unanimously to all of the recommendations in the report and are meeting on Tuesday to look at ways of funding the necessary changes to the service.

‘We’re extremely grateful to AACE and also St John Ambulance Guernsey, who have given us invaluable advice and support,’ he said.

‘The paramedic and the volunteers have worked tirelessly to provide an essential service, which is particularly noteworthy in light of the additional strains placed on the island by the pandemic.’

He said ideally additional paramedics, volunteers and a part-time medical director would join the team in the future.

‘We know that further support is needed to provide the island with all confidence that they have a resilient and modern service to meet every community need,’ he said.

A small team from the AACE visited the island to examine how the service was operating after several major changes over the past two years.

For a two-day period from 30 September, the team interviewed and observed the tax-funded service, which responds to fire/rescue and ambulance calls for a resident population of about 2,000 people.

The island’s size, location, remoteness and rurality were considered, but the service was still assessed in the context of a modern UK health care setting, and found to be inadequate in several crucial areas.

The report stressed that the service is far too reliant on volunteers and the singular full-time qualified paramedic employed as a clinical support officer.

It could not be considered sustainable in its current condition.

The report also scrutinised the lack of any medical or pharmacological governance processes in place to permit the safe use and appropriate management of paramedic medicines.

This means the paramedic cannot administer the range of medicines that he should be able to give to patients.

Among the numerous recommendations from the AACE, they urged the States of Alderney to employ at least two more paramedics, so the current paramedic could maintain a more appropriate work/life balance.

They also suggested an urgent call be made for additional volunteers to be trained adequately and a strategy to be developed eventually to alleviate the reliance on volunteer responders in the next few years.

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