Nationally there are over 445,000 111 calls for ambulances each year. Over 30% of these are for non-urgent (not urgent or immediately life threatening) issues. These are called ‘low acuity’.
Low acuity calls are for issues like boils, piles, constipation, trouble sleeping, cramps, gout and earache. So St John has introduced a new, better initiative for getting the best care to these people.
There are better – and often faster – ways of managing these calls for patients, that also free up ambulance resources to focus on the increasing number of ‘high acuity’ urgent and life threatening incidents.
111 callers (from within the Auckland DHB regions) who appear to have low acuity issues, are advised that an ambulance isn’t being sent and that they will be called back by a registered nurse or a St John Paramedic.
The nurse or paramedic triages the caller by asking a series of questions to clarify the patient’s symptoms. This helps them to better understand the nature and severity of their condition and the best response to provide.
Options include self-care, referral to a GP, referral to a private Accident and Medical centre, or St John responding with an ambulance or alternative vehicle to treat the patient, with/without transporting them to a hospital emergency department.
This approach - having qualified medical professionals triage low acuity calls - is used extensively and successfully internationally.
This initiative is being run from the Auckland Clinical Control Centre. St John plans to extend this service to other regions in the future.
A public information campaign was launched in Auckland to complement the initiative titled, ‘Here when you need us. There if you need us’.