Emerg Med J 29:243-246 doi:10.1136/emj.2010.094789
  • Prehospital care

Performance measurement in British Helicopter Emergency Medical Services and Australian Air Medical Services

  1. Stephen Hearns1
  1. 1Emergency Medical Retrieval Service, City Heliport, Glasgow, UK
  2. 2Barwon Health, The Geelong Hospital, Ryrie Street, Geelong, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Nicholas Simpson, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Clinical Fellow, Emergency Medical Retrieval Service, City Heliport, 110 Stobcross Road, Glasgow, G3 8QQ, UK; nicksimp2000{at}
  • Accepted 3 January 2011
  • Published Online First 3 February 2011


Background Performance outcome measures are an essential component of health service improvement. Whereas hospital critical care services have established performance measures, prehospital care services have less well-established outcome measures and this has been identified as a key issue for development. Individual studies examining long-term survival and functional outcome measures have previously been used to evaluate prehospital care delivery. There is no set of standardised patient outcome measures for Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) in the UK or Air Medical Services (AMS) in Australia. The aim of this study is to document the patient outcome measures currently in use within British HEMS and Australian AMS.

Methods This is an observational study analysing point prevalence of practice as of November 2009. A structured questionnaire was designed to assess the method of routine patient follow-up, and the timing and nature of applied patient outcome measures.

Results Full responses were received from 17/21 (81%) British services and 6/7 (86%) Australian services. The overall response rate was 82%.

Conclusions HEMS in Britain and Australian aeromedical retrieval services do not have uniform patient outcome measures. Services tend not to follow-up patients beyond 24 h post transfer. Patient outcome data are rarely presented to an external organisation and there is no formal data comparison between surveyed services. Services are not satisfied that the data currently being collected reflects the quality of their service.


  • The salaries of the employed clinicians were paid by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

  • Competing interests All authors have completed the Unified Competing Interest form at (available on request from the corresponding author) and declare that (1) NS, SH, BB & AC have no support from any private companies for the submitted work; (2) NS, SH, BB & AC have no relationships with any companies that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous 3 years; (3) their spouses, partners, or children have no financial relationships that may be relevant to the submitted work; and (4) NS, SH, BB & AC have no non-financial interests that may be relevant to the submitted work.

  • Ethics approval This survey of clinical practice did not involve patients, and ethics approval was not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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