New standards for private ambulance operators

New standards for private ambulance operators

We thank Ms Shirley Loh for her feedback ("What are SOPs for private ambulances?"; Feb 24) regarding her experience with a private ambulance service provider.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has since contacted the provider concerned to ensure that proper protocols are in place.

The 1998 Ambulance Guidelines require ambulance providers to be able to measure vital signs such as pulse rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure.

Early this year, MOH updated and published the new Emergency Ambulance and Medical Transport Services Standards to improve the standards of care provided by private ambulance operators (PAOs).

However, in the event of a medical emergency, MOH would advise the public to call 995 instead of a private ambulance.

We have engaged the PAOs on the new standards, which will be adopted in phases over the next two years.

Training courses have been developed for ambulance operators to improve their capabilities in caring for patients.

In the transition period, the public should contact MOH should they encounter issues related to ambulance care.

1777 is an easy-to-remember hotline number for the public to call for non-emergency ambulance services.

When a member of the public calls 1777, the call-centre operator will determine the type of assistance needed, before routing the call to a PAO registered under the 1777 network.

The basic charges, which are listed on the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) website, will be explained by the PAO, and an ambulance will be dispatched upon the caller's acceptance of service.

In Ms Loh's case, the basic charges and mode of payment were mutually agreed upon, so an ambulance was dispatched.

Public feedback and complaints against PAOs registered under the 1777 network are thoroughly reviewed by MOH and the SCDF.

For serious service lapses, the PAO is either issued with a written warning or, in repeat cases, it will be taken off the 1777 network.

Arising from Ms Loh's feedback, we are working with the PAOs to review the payment process as part of our overall effort to improve the standard of ambulance services provided through the 1777 network.

Lim Bee Khim (Ms)

Director, Corporate Communications

Ministry of Health

A. Razak Raheem (Colonel)

Director, Public Affairs Department

Singapore Civil Defence Force

This article was first published on March 9, 2015.
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