The Scottish Ambulance Service has been rolling out a New Clinical Response Model (NCRM) which is said to have improved the way that they respond to emergency calls. They credit the new response model as saving lives with more people in Scotland surviving a cardiac arrest. However, it does have implications for the priority give to other categories of patients, especially those deemed as less urgent cases. Under the new triage system, patients are placed into one of five categories. Patients in the purple category are the most critically ill patients – those who are most at risk of dying – and are given top priority.  Patients in other categories – amber, then yellow, then green – will sometimes experience a slower ambulance response, generally because the Ambulance Service will be prioritising their resources on those patients in the purple and red categories who are most at risk of dying.

According to evidence from the trial period, the Ambulance Sevrice say that “these changes are having an extremely positive impact upon patient care and outcomes – with more lives being saved as a result and better treatment for all types of patients. The feedback we receive from patients across Scotland indicates that many understand and support the fact that sometimes they may have to wait slightly longer if there is a critically ill patient our crews need to attend to first.”

However, they also acknowledge that “we are keen to do all we can to ensure people understand the triage system we operate and the reasons for the changes we are making. There are a very small minority of cases where some patients are waiting an unacceptably long time for treatment and we are taking action to improve our systems for these types of patients too – with clinical advisors regularly checking in on them and an automatic upgrade to a high priority call out if any vulnerable patients are waiting too long or if their condition deteriorates at any point. There is more work to do on this and it is progressing well.”

The Ambulance Service is keen to get public feedback, and you can contact them on