Paramedics to trial new 999 system

PUBLISHED: 09:14 27 January 2015 | UPDATED: 09:14 27 January 2015

Paramedics and police were called.

Paramedics and police were called.


A REDUCTION in wasted ambulance journeys and improving emergency care are two factors behind a pilot scheme which is being launched in the South West.

NHS England will trial a new response categorisation system in two parts of the UK.

South West Ambulance Service, which covers the whole of North Somerset, along with Gloucestershire, Bristol, Cornwall and other parts of the West Country, is one of two chosen.

The move will mean 999 calls will have to meet tougher criteria to be considered the most serious of emergencies.

NHS evidence shows fewer than 10 per cent of 999 calls are for genuinely life-threatening issues, however about 40 per cent of calls are put in the most serious category by phone operators.

Those so-called Red 1 calls mean often paramedics and rapid responders both attend separately and because too many are being put in that category, it often unnecessary leads to doubling-up of emergency healthcare.

The trial will therefore expect phone operators, having established it is not a life-threatening emergency, to take up to three minutes, rather than the usual 60 seconds, to get all the detail possible. Then they should be able to make a better judgement over whether both an ambulance and rapid responder is needed – hopefully freeing up more time for paramedics to attend other emergencies quicker.

Professor Keith Willett, NHS England’s national director for acute care, said: ‘We are piloting these new arrangements because on medical grounds, we believe they will increase the availability of ambulance vehicles and paramedic staff, providing patients with a better service and improving their chances of survival, especially those with the most serious conditions.

“It’s not about relaxing standards. By acting with slightly less haste on the calls, we believe we can get to more patients with more speed.”

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