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How the call will be triaged

Your call will be triaged similarly to all 999 calls. This triage system exists to match our resources to the nature of the problem. It allows us to identify those calls which are so time-critical that they warrant an emergency vehicle, even if that means diverting an ambulance on the way to another less urgent call.

As demand in London for ambulances is usually very high, call triage is a vital way of ensuring that those patients with the most immediate need are dealt with first, regardless of who is requesting the ambulance.

Key learning points when calling 999 for GPs and out-of-hours(OOH) Co-ops

Suggested by our Medical Directorate

  1. Requests by GPs for emergency ambulance journeys are now triaged in the same way as 999 calls.
  2. Wherever possible GPs should speak to the ambulance controller themselves to give accurate responses to the questions. Delegation may result in wrong call categorisation.
  3. The number of simple triage questions asked are reduced for patients with time-critical emergencies as ‘red flags’ are sought first.
  4. The ambulance call taker may offer ‘telephone first-aid instructions’. Many healthcare professionals who work in non-emergency settings find these a useful ‘on-the-spot refresher’. The call taker can stay on line with you offering advice and support.
  5. All calls are recorded and can be used to support your management if called to question.
  6. If the patient’s condition deteriorates after the call is completed, dial 999 again and the triage priority will be upgraded. Quoting the original reference number will save time.
  7. Consider clinical training sessions in your surgery/out of hours co-operative. Involve local ambulance staff as part of cross organisational learning – evidence of good practice and continued professional development.
  8. OOH providers / new general practitioners should ensure instructions on calling an ambulance form part of any induction in unscheduled care received.

A brief handover of relevant information improves patient care.

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