NHS to issue 30,000 iPads to ambulance crews

Mobile devices will allow crews to send photographs to hospital specialists and access health records while at the scene of incidents, aiming to speed up and improve care

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens has announced plans to issue 30,000 iPads to ambulance crews across England.

The iPads will allow paramedics to access people’s health records on the scene, helping them to assess injuries and make a decision on whether to treat a patient at the scene or take them to hospital.

The devices will also allow them to take and send photographs from accidents to specialist clinicians so they know what they will be dealing with when the patient arrives at the hospital, and can prepare better.

Stevens said ambulance crews have been “at the forefront of the pandemic, routinely dealing with life-and-death situations and are often first on scene to treat and diagnose critically ill patients”.

He added: “These devices are another tool for our highly skilled paramedics and ambulance technicians as they continue to respond to the country’s most critically ill and injured patients.

“It is another example of the health service innovating and harnessing technology to improve patient care as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.”

The iPad drive is funded by NHSX, and the devices have been piloted by ambulance crews in London and the South-East, who have been using the tablets to video call consultants when attending stroke patients. Initial results from the pilot have found increased effectiveness in having access to patient information and specialist medical advice.

Following the pilot, NHSX will roll out the iPads to eight ambulance trusts in England. In the East Midlands, the tablets will be used to send photographs from the scene of traffic accidents to help clinicians at the hospital prepare, based on the severity of the incident and how many patients they can expect to treat.

Health minister Edward Argar said: “Paramedics and ambulance crews play a vital role on the NHS frontline, day in, day out.

“By rolling out these iPads, we are harnessing modern technology, helping them to help you by enabling them to continue providing the very best emergency care more quickly to more patients.

“Investing in these devices will help the NHS to ensure patients and staff are benefiting from the latest technology, and is part of our commitment through the NHS Long Term Plan to improve care for the future.”

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