The London Ambulance Service

MQT on 2017-12-14
Session date: 
December 14, 2017
Question By: 
Peter Whittle
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Will you make representations to the Government regarding making the London Ambulance Service democratically accountable - in much the same way as the Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade are already?


Answer for The London Ambulance Service

Answer for The London Ambulance Service

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you for that question.  Can I begin by expressing my admiration and support for the paramedics and other staff in the LAS who work tirelessly for Londoners, especially at this time of year when they can find themselves extremely stretched?  The LAS is accountable to the Secretary of State for Health who is responsible for providing a comprehensive health service.  I have a regular meeting with the Executive of the ambulance service to seek assurances that Londoners will receive the high-quality and timely services they need and deserve.


If you are asking whether the LAS should become a functional body of the GLA Group, I am not sure I support this idea.  My understanding is neither does the LAS.  The ambulance service is part of the National Health Service (NHS).  It is a provider of health services and also needs to maintain vital relationships and levers of influence within the NHS in order to improve patient handover times in acute trusts and develop alternative non-emergency care services.  All that being said, it is critically important that the LAS works closely with London’s other emergency services.  There already are many shared initiatives that currently exist between the LAS, the fire brigade and the MPS.  These include a joint response unit between the LAS and the MPS in 12 boroughs where demand is very high, a dedicated team in the LAS call centre to handle police calls, a new mobile communication system for ‘blue light’ services in development and co-responding between the LAS and the police in all London boroughs.  The ‘blue light’ services are also exploring closer collaboration on prevention and response activities, control rooms, back office and support functions, estate information, communication technology and an air quality measure for fleets.  Of course, all ‘blue light’ services are represented at the London Resilience Forum, which enables those involved in emergency preparation and response to collaborate on planning and preparation for emergencies.


Peter Whittle AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  I take it from that you are not keen on the idea of it being brought here, as it were?  It seems to me it is bit of an anomaly really.  We have the police and the fire brigade under scrutiny here.  The LAS seems to lack scrutiny.  There is a democratic deficit there somewhere.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am not ruling out.  My concern is the fragmentation and lack of ‘joined-upness’ with the NHS.  None of us wants the NHS to become fragmented.  Also, if you think about it, if we did that we would be dealing with people taking patients from home to accident and emergency departments (A&Es).  The LAS does much more than that.  I am not sure that would resolve the challenges there are because, if you like, the LAS deals with the symptoms of problems in the NHS.  I am not sure if it addresses the mischief you are trying to address, which is a better LAS, more accountability, a better service for Londoners and patients in general.


Peter Whittle AM:  I was thinking that, obviously, with the increasing risks to London we have seen this year it would seem to make sense, if you like, to regularise it with us.  If that is not something you want to do that is a great pity.  We have talked about this in the Assembly before.  James Cleverly [MP, former Assembly Member] did a report for the Conservatives about it but there was no recommendation made.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Assembly Member Whittle, you will not be able to have an answer to this question because you are out of time, sadly. 


Peter Whittle AM:  I had a good old go today.