Ambulance Response to COVID-19

COVID 19 continues to pose challenges globally many months after it was given pandemic status on 11 March 2020. Across the UK health and care system, there is a determination to learn from the experience of the response, and to hang on to the ‘silver linings’ that have manifested from some of the measures put in place so the system could cope.

Ambulance services, at the forefront of caring for patients within the pandemic setting, had to take rapid and significant steps in order to manage the extreme levels of demand placed on the 999 service, NHS 111 and Patient Transport Services as the crisis unfolded.

Operating models were transformed, digital solutions were implemented, workforce numbers were temporarily swelled, and processes and pathways that had once seemed frustratingly unattainable, suddenly became achievable all at great speed.

Many of the changes that were implemented were already identified as objectives in ambulance trusts’ strategies for delivering against the NHS Long Term Plan.

Most of them comprise solutions that are not just about ambulance operations, but form co-designed, integrated models working with partner providers in the NHS and in other sectors.

Having reflected on what has taken place over the initial six months of the pandemic, we have worked with all UK ambulance trusts to collate those elements of COVID 19 response that worked well, so that we can continue to work with partners in maintaining and sustaining the benefits achieved through them.

We continue to collect examples of response models and care pathways that are working well to ensure patients received the most appropriate care, in the right setting when they ask for help through 999 or NHS 111. You can find examples here in our Repository of Best Practice for Safely Reducing Ambulance Conveyance here. 


This document captures a summary of some of the key aspects that facilitated access to, and delivery of care in, the urgent and emergency, out of hospital environment during the COVID 19 pandemic.


If you wish to collaborate further, you can request access to NHSE’s Beneficial Changes / Covid-19 FutureNHS Workspace here.