New Ambulance flagging systems launched

Published Date
Alexa Follen
Strengthening healthcare services

Muscular Dystrophy UK are pleased to announce an exciting update on our ‘Ambulance Action’ campaign, which has been established to ensure best-practice emergency care is provided for people with muscle-wasting conditions in the UK.

Following our work with the London Ambulance Service, we’re working with ambulance trusts across the UK to adopt flagging systems that alert paramedics and first responders that the person they are treating has a muscle-wasting condition.

We are now pleased to announce that from this work new support is now available in the West Midlands and Northern Ireland.

West Midlands

The neuromuscular team at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry have developed a ‘traffic light’ system of identifying patients at high-risk of needing emergency care. Patients’ emergency care plans are then shared with the West Midlands Ambulance Service who add their names to a list of people who should be automatically treated as a high priority case when 999 or 111 calls are received from their address.

Call handlers are able to identify which patients have these plans and will inform the paramedics attending that call. Paramedics are then able to contact their colleagues and retrieve this information.

We will now be working with health professionals across the West Midlands to ensure patients that are likely to need emergency care across the region can benefit from this system.

Carrie Aimes from Worcester has Ullrich muscular dystrophy and is a member of Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Trailblazers, a network of young disabled people who campaign to remove the barriers that prevent them from living full and independent lives. She shares her experience of emergency care below:

Each time I have required emergency care, it has been necessary for myself or my family to relay every detail of my disability and how it affects me. This has left me deeply concerned about being in a position where I’m unable to answer questions regarding my condition.

For this reason, I think it is a really positive step forward that the team in Oswestry are ensuring paramedics are aware of the specific care needs of patients with muscle-wasting conditions – patients like me, who are likely to need emergency care.

Northern Ireland

The ambulance service in Northern Ireland has a similar flagging system to the West Midlands. The neuromuscular team in Belfast have also now started to share the emergency care plans for high-risk patients with the ambulance service.

Michaela Hollywood (pictured above) from County Down, Northern Ireland, is a Muscular Dystrophy UK Trailblazers Campaigns Officer who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). She writes:

It’s great that vital information for people with muscle-wasting conditions at high-risk of needing emergency care is starting to be made available to paramedics in Northern Ireland before they respond to a call.

From my own experience I know how important it is that the emergency staff I come into contact with know what they should and shouldn’t do in an emergency.

We are continuing to work in partnership with all of the ambulance services in the UK to ensure every region has a flagging system to support care. We will also be launching a report on our Ambulance Action campaign alongside ambulance and NHS services at an All-Party Parliamentary Group for Muscular Dystrophy later this year.

If you have a muscle-wasting condition, are likely to need emergency care and want to find out whether your emergency care information can be added to your ambulance service’s flagging system, then please speak with your neuromuscular team of health professionals.

If you would like to share your experience of emergency care or get involved with our Ambulance Action campaign then get in touch with David Stephenson at or on 0207 803 4826

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