The approach in the East Riding of Yorkshire is designed to keep 999 paramedics available for emergencies and could save up to £250,000 a year.
Latest figures for April show 65.7 per cent of 999 call-outs in the area reached casualties within eight minutes – significantly below the 75 per cent target – mainly because of the isolation of the area which measures 400 square miles.
Officials at the East Riding of Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group have set up the “flexible, reliable” alternative to using ambulances to improve response times where availability of emergency vehicles is stretched.
Under the initiative, health staff –chiefly GPs and others working in the community – will be able to summon a car via the ambulance service where it is safe for patients who need hospital treatment.
“This scheme has been instigated with the full backing of all East Riding of Yorkshire GPs and Yorkshire Ambulance Service,” said a spokesman.
“Due to the rurality of the East Riding of Yorkshire... emergency ambulances are stretched, therefore it is imperative they remain in the East Riding to respond to the next emergency call. The underlying reason for the scheme is to improve ambulance response times, with patient safety in mind.”
The service was launched in April using voluntary car schemes and taxi services. It is expected between three and five calls for the service will be received each day, saving as much as £250,000, with each call-out by the ambulance service costing £263.