Emergency medical services in the United Kingdom

Emergency Medical Services In The United Kingdom

Emergency medical services in the United Kingdom

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Emergency medical services in the United Kingdom provide immediate care to people with acute illness or injury, and are predominantly provided by the four publicly-funded health care systems: the National Health Service (for England), Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland, NHS Scotland and NHS Wales.

Role of the ambulance services

Public ambulance services across the UK are required by law to respond to four types of requests for care, which are:
  • Emergency calls (via the 999 system)
  • Doctor's urgent admission requests
  • High dependency and urgent inter-hospital transfers
  • Major incidents

Ambulance trusts and services may also undertake non-urgent patient transport services on a commercial arrangement with their local hospital trusts or health boards, or in some cases on directly funded government contracts. This is an area where an increasing amount of private firms are taking business away from the trusts.

Emergency ambulance work in all NHS bodies and most voluntary and private firms is based on the guidance published by the Joint Royal Colleges of medicine Ambulance Liaison Committee (JRCALC).

Public ambulance services


Emergency medical services are provided through local ambulance services, known in England and Wales as trusts. Each service in England is specific to a one or more local authority areas, and so the country is divided across a number of ambulance services, in a similar way to the Police.

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