THE London Ambulance Service (LAS) has welcomed advice for ambulance drivers to ignore their nearest hospital in favour of distant specialist centres.

A Government report - Healthcare for London: A Framework for Action - claims that patients would benefit by being treated in facilities designed to address their individual complaints, even if they spend more time travelling. While the report, written by Professor Sir Ara Darzi, has raised concerns among campaigners fighting for the survival of district general hospitals, the LAS says it could help patients.

LAS Director of Service Development, Kathy Jones said: "We now take over 70 per cent of our heart attack patients to specialist centres in the capital for primary angioplasty, where clots in the artery are unblocked through the insertion of a catheter and the inflation of a surgical balloon.

"Whilst this can sometimes mean a longer journey time for patients, this treatment offers patients a much better chance of survival and a quicker recovery. For this reason, we would welcome similar specialist centres for our stroke, paediatric and trauma patients."

The report also discusses the setting up of super surgeries' to deal with those non-emergency patients.

Only ten per cent of patients attended to by ambulance staff in London have life-threatening illnesses and Prof Darzi is keen to prioritise those who need the service most.