Healthcare professional information
To make sure we provide the best and safest possible care for our patients, we want to improve the way we communicate with GPs and healthcare professionals (HCP) in London and build stronger links with our colleagues in primary care.
Here you will find information about the services we provide and how we will deal with your call.
How we prioritise calls
Each time we receive an emergency call we identify it within one of five categories according to national ambulance standards.
Our control room staff use our sophisticated software system to put the call into the category, based on its urgency and Department of Health guidelines.
They record details about the nature of the patient’s illness or injury to send the most appropriate help.
Since November 2017 we have been using the National Ambulance Response Programme targets. Find out more about ARP here.
Calling an ambulance
If you a referring a Category 1 call (i.e immediate action is needed to save life) for example a cardiac arrest, we will send you multiple resources.
All other calls should be made via the dedicated HCP line number. Please ensure this number is not displayed so it is visible to patients as this line bypasses some of the normal processes of a 999 call and patients may be put at clinical risk if calls are made by members of the public. The HCP line is designed for use by the HCP with clinical responsibility for the patient. The best practice is for the doctor to make the call themselves, unless prevented from doing so due to active treatment of the patient.
When you are connected on the HCP line you will be asked a series of questions to establish the most appropriate time for response, including your patient’s NEWS2 score. If you are unfamiliar with NEWS2 scoring, a set of patient observations can allow us to calculate it for you and will aid in ensuring we allocate the appropriate resources to the patient.
When the patient’s condition presents an immediate threat to their life (Category 2) we will allocate the nearest available ambulance. Examples include – NEWS2 7+, cardiac chest pain, acute breathing problems, uncontrolled bleeding, reduced level of consciousness, signs of severe sepsis. Further information regarding sepsis and the use of NEWS2 is available on the RCGP website.
In other cases we offer a longer response time frame, which is usually around four hours unless there is a clear clinical need.
Other than for Category 1 and 2 calls you will be asked for the appropriate destination for your patient. If your patient has been accepted by a person or team , then please give the name at this point in your call.
If you are uncertain of the response you require for your patient, we have clinicians available in our control rooms to discuss this with you.
Please not we no longer offer non urgent transport to hospital appointments.
Who will respond to your call
Our emergency ambulance staff – which include paramedics, advanced paramedics, emergency ambulance crew and trainee emergency ambulance crew. These clinicians provide blue light response and conduct assessments and treatments for seriously ill patients.
Our non-emergency transport teams provide basic care including oxygen and Entonox. These crews work in pairs and have a full range of manual handling equipment. Our non-emergency transport team is likely to be the most appropriate response for your palliative care or mental health patients.
For life threatening calls, multiple resources will be sent to your patient. These may include community volunteers who are trained in basic life support and are equipped with defibrillators.
Documents and guidelines
Our medical directorate issues regular bulletins and clinical updates to our staff to keep them up to date with processes.
We have a newsletter especially for all our London GPs and HCPs to keep you up to date with key issues and the latest news relevant to primary care and our continued partnership.