Snooks, Helen, Williams, Susan, Crouch, Robert, Foster, Theresa, Hartley-Sharpe, Chris and Dale, Jeremy
NHS emergency response to 999 calls: alternatives for cases that are neither life threatening nor serious
BMJ, 325, (7359), . (doi:10.1136/bmj.325.7359.330).
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Ambulance services and emergency departments are under increasing pressure as the number of emergency calls continues to risebut in many cases, patients do not need immediate clinical care. Helen Snooks and colleagues consider the alternatives to the standard NHS response and review the current literature
The number of emergency (999) calls received by ambulance services in the United Kingdom has risen consistently over recent years. Ambulance services must respond to calls immediately by sending vehicles staffed by paramedics, with flashing lights and sirens. All patients have to be taken to an accident and emergency department. This response is not always appropriate, and it can result in inefficient use of resources and unnecessary risks to the general public, patients, and paramedics.
The NHS Plan and the recent consultation document Reforming Emergency Care have emphasised the importance of trying new approaches to deliver appropriate care. They highlight the need to consider new ways to integrate the ambulance response to 999 calls into the overall system that deals with emergencies.
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