Towards research literacy in the NHS ambulance services: an outsider's perspective

Why an ‘outsider’?The literature around the ambulance services is rapidly increasing. However, at present, the lack of research around topics like patient safety means that a majority of the available research is based on data from primary care settings, like hospitals, where the context is remarkably different (Altman et al, 2004; Rust et al, 2008; Fisher et al, 2015). While the ambulance services grow their research profile and continue pairing with universities, implementing roles like the research paramedic, this problem is bound to be temporary (McClelland, 2013).The Research Activity League Table published by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) demonstrates that from 2014/15–2016/17, the total number of large-scale studies conducted in the ambulance services expanded substantially from only 9, up to 46. Equally, the number of participants recruited increased from 270 to over 8300 (NIHR, 2018).While this growth in research is remarkable and the transition to a research-literate care setting is fundamental to their success, the ambulance services still have a long way to go (Wood, 2012). As the services continue to deliver more and more research ‘in-house’, and increase the amount of research led by paramedics, in the meantime, some of the work is currently being carried out by external researchers, like myself (McClelland, 2013).

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