Our Physician Response Unit is a community emergency medicine service which attends emergency calls in people’s homes. It is staffed by a senior emergency medicine doctor and an ambulance clinician, and carries advanced medication, equipment and treatments usually only found in hospital. The service responds to 999 calls, treating patients in their homes who would otherwise have often required an ambulance transfer to hospital. The PRU is a collaboration between London’s Air Ambulance, the London Ambulance Service and Barts Health NHS Trust.

During the pandemic, the PRU expanded its working hours and added two more teams, which freed up hospital beds and reduced risks for vulnerable patients by helping them avoid a trip to hospital. It currently operates with two cars from 8.30am to 11pm seven days a week. 

What is the PRU?

The PRU is a rapid response emergency service consisting of a senior doctor and London Ambulance Service clinician that aims to take the Emergency Department to the patient. The vehicles carry diagnostic equipment and treatments which would normally be found only in hospital such as instant result blood tests, urine tests and sutures to stitch serious wounds.

Why is the PRU needed?

The service helps to avoid hospital attendances and admissions and enhances patient care and experience.

What is the difference between the PRU and London's Air Ambulance?

The PRU follows the same governance structure as London's Air Ambulance. However it does not usually respond to trauma calls. It goes to emergency calls where the doctor and London Ambulance Service clinician can make a difference to a patient and hopefully avoid a trip to the Emergency Department. Both services are founded on the premise of taking the hospital to the patient.

How is the PRU funded?

Like London's Air Ambulance the PRU is operated collaboratively by Barts Health NHS Trust, London’s Air Ambulance and London Ambulance Service. The NHS pays for the medics and some equipment and infrastructure.

Where does he PRU operate?

The PRU operates in North East London, within the footprint of The Royal London Hospital.

How does the PRU get to patients?

The PRU uses a specially adapted rapid response car. The London Ambulance Service clinician drives and the doctor navigates. The team use a Skoda Kodiaq.