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Here is a Unison statement regarding the CAT 2 Dispatch Protocol that has been issued by SWAST.

Dear Members
On Wednesday 19th February 2020, SWAST issued a ‘Special Communications for the Clinical Hubs’. This will come into effect week commencing Monday, 2nd March. Some of you may have already had sight of this document. Your local management teams should be briefing you prior to the start date on Monday.

We confirm that Unison did receive a briefing from the Trust on this and the rationale behind the decision. The Communication is fairly self-explanatory, however, here are the highlights in brief:


New National Ambulance Response Times and the New Rules under the Ambulance Response Programme (“ARP”)

• The nationally led ARP programme changed the national ambulance response time’s targets to a greater focus on getting the quickest and most appropriate vehicle to the patient (rather than just the quickest). ALL Trusts are now monitored on the Mean and 90th centile. Under the old rules Trusts were measured against a percentage (e.g. the focus was on the target of 75% of patients responded to within 8 minutes with no monitoring on the response time for the other 25%)

Greater focus is now being directed at Category 2 calls. About 60% of all patients phoning 999 to SWASFT are triaged into Cat 2 so the impact of delayed responses to patients is high.

The Trust is outside (worse than) of the national target. The national mean response time for Cat2 patients is 18 minutes and in addition there is an expectation nationally that 9 out of 10 patients who are triaged as a Cat2 receive a response within 40 minutes.

SWASFT is a frequent outlier nationally when compared to other ambulance services.

Cat2 patients regularly wait on the call queue in the clinical hub without a resource being allocated. The call stack has been identified as the Trusts highest risk for some time.

The ‘Special Communications’ details actions being taken by the Trust to improve its response time to Cat2 patients. The planned date for this is Monday 2 March 2020 and all hub managers and frontline officers have accordingly been briefed.


Whilst it is hoped that the 45 minutes travel time, (under ‘Guidance only’ on page 5), will work well , we can confirm that Unison originally discussed with the Trust a distance arrangement. However, following feedback from Hub Managers that because the road network is so highly variable they felt that minutes would be better, the Trust decided this would be more prudent and made the decision to change Miles to Time.

Hubs have been asked to take a pragmatic approach on this, giving particular consideration to crew finishing times.

We suggest that if there are occasions when crews feel they may have been unsympathetically dispatched resulting in unnecessary late finish times, then please Datix them, as this is the reporting system that the Trust recognises. Please do not make comment on social media, it doesn’t help and won’t change things. If you cannot datix for any reason, please drop an email to your local Unison Steward, who can collate comments and pass them onto the Unison Branch Officers. However, please try and make this an exception as opposed to a rule.

Lastly, we confirm that we are continuing with negotiations with the Trust in regard to Meal Break Compliance and End of Shift Protection and would hope to go to ballot giving 2 options on which you can vote.
Yvonne Burke
Branch Secretary
25th February 2020