SURVIVAL rates for people with life-threatening conditions have improved thanks to a change in the way 999 calls are handled by the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Previously, paramedics responded to all emergency calls by aiming to get an ambulance to the scene within eight minutes.

However, in November 2016, a New Clinical Response Model (NCRM) was introduced, which allows the service to prioritise treating people with immediate life threatening (ILT) conditions.

This is done by colour-coding cases to match their priority level – with the colours being purple, red, amber, yellow and green.

Patients with ILT conditions are categorised purple, the most urgent cases where patients’ risk of cardiac arrest is above 10 per cent.

A study from the University of Stirling has found that since the introduction of the NCRM, survival rates for people with ILT conditions have increased.

Jayne Donaldson, the professor at the university who led the research, said: "We found that the new model can accurately identify patients who have the greatest need for ambulance services.

"Ultimately, this approach has improved the survival of those with immediate life threatening conditions."

Comparing January data from 2016, 2017 and 2018, a team of researchers found that survival increased by 20 per cent in January 2017 and 10 per cent in January 2018.

In January 2016, before the new model was introduced, two in 10 patients with ILT conditions were likely to survive.

Under the new model, that increased to four in 10 in January 2017 and three in 10 in January 2018.

However, it was also noted that the new system had led to longer response times for those in less serious conditions.