03 February 2016 – 64% Frequent Caller Reduction Following NWAS Initiative

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has welcomed the ‘remarkable’ success of their frequent caller initiative, in working with vulnerable individuals to ensure they get the most appropriate healthcare.

Angela FC

Picture: Frequent Caller Team Lead for NWAS Angela McNally

The vast majority of individuals who access the 999 system do so with genuine healthcare requirements. Those who access emergency healthcare on an unusually high number of occasions, identified as frequent callers, may be individuals who are at risk, vulnerable or accessing the incorrect healthcare for their needs.

The Frequent Caller Team was set up by NWAS to directly intervene and manage individuals who contact the service either five times or more in one month or 12 times or more in three months. The team has close links with charities, other healthcare services and encourages the different agencies to talk to one another for the benefit of the patient.

Between April and December 2015 the Trust focused the initiative on frequent callers with multi complex needs. This was a total of 83 patients across the region who called the Service on a regular basis. At each stage of the process the patient, their families and carers were involved in telephone assessments, home visits and multiagency meetings in order discuss the individual’s issues and produce care plans. 

Before the Frequent Caller Team intervened, the patients identified had made a total of 667 calls to the Service and were transported to Accident and Emergency (A&E) 335 times. Following the Frequent Caller Team’s work since April 2015, those calls have dropped to 242 calls, a 64 per cent reduction, and 76 A&E attendances, a 77 per cent reduction.   

The Frequent Caller Lead for NWAS Angela McNally, who has implemented the scheme, said: “The fact we have been able to proactively identify a range of vulnerable individuals, who have very complex issues, and give them the help and support they need has really helped the Service. Not only has the scheme had a positive impact on the lives of those individuals, but it has helped to free up the Trust’s resources for patients with life-threatening issues.

“There are a number of patients with complex medical needs who need that support. One of those individuals was a 60 year old gentleman who lived alone and suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. He was continuously phoning 999 because he felt like he could not breathe – despite being reassured by a number of crews who came to his assistance. With the support provided by the NWAS Frequent Caller Team the gentleman was assigned a case manager. Meetings took place between the case manager and his neighbourhood manager. It was then discovered the patient was being pressured into buying alcohol for a neighbour. The patient was then moved to a place of safety after professionals intervened and he is now living in a safe and healthy environment.

“This is an example of what can be achieved when help is provided to vulnerable patients who are contacting the Service an abnormal number of times, ensuring they are given the support and treatment needed to lead a healthy life.

“The remarkable success of our work with patients suffering from multi complex needs stems from our joint working with Commissioners in developing the frequent caller model. We will continue our efforts to increase the availability of the Trust’s emergency resources to those patients with immediate life-threatening conditions and provide more appropriate care closer to home.”

The Trust has set up a campaign encouraging the public to #MakeTheRightCall and use the ambulance service appropriately. For more information on the campaign please go to the following link:  http://www.nwas.nhs.uk/news/press-releases-statements-2015/08-december-2015-ambulance-service-urges-patients-to-use-999-sensibly-and-maketherightcall/