Nov 2018 - Requesting urgent or emergency ambulance transport for your patient

On Monday 3 December, North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) is launching a new telephone number for healthcare professionals to request an ambulance for patients who need urgent or emergency transportation to hospital or between hospital sites.  

The new number is part of a wider pilot project looking at new national frameworks for healthcare professional (HCP) requests for ambulance transport. This work has been undertaken in response to concerns expressed by healthcare professionals about the current system and developed with their input.

The principles underscoring the changes are:

  • Trusting the clinician with the patient;
  • Ensuring equity for patients who are with healthcare professionals;
  • A simpler, easier to navigate system that will be adapted as it is rolled-out, due to the dedicated staff allocated to the role.

The new number will be in use from Monday 3 December and will be available to all healthcare professionals across the region: 

Healthcare professional line: 0345 140 0144

Please note:

  • This will replace the various existing local telephone numbers.  However, existing numbers will automatically divert to the new number during the pilot to support patient safety.
  • The healthcare professional line is not for use by members of the public.  Healthcare professionals and the public can still call 999 in immediately life-threatening emergencies. 

There is a team at NWAS working on this pilot. They are available to support healthcare professionals and can be contacted at ift.hcp@nwas.nhs.uk with any general queries or feedback.

What will happen when you call the healthcare professional line

HCPs calling NWAS will be asked a number of clinical questions about the patient’s condition, to determine the correct level of response. The first question is designed to identify those with life-threatening illness or injury to ensure help can be arranged immediately.

There are some key points within the national frameworks that HCPs need to be aware of:

  • In a life-threatening situation or an emergency request, the attending clinician is required to make the call to ensure accurate information is given about the situation. Where delegation is unavoidable, the individual making the request for support must be able to answer basic triage questions about the patient’s condition.
  • Healthcare professionals are requested to remain with the patient when the condition is immediately life-threatening or requires immediate clinical care in a hospital setting.
  • Bed bureau or single point of access arrangements that book ambulance transport on behalf of HCPs must have procedures in place so that they can provide all the clinical information needed to make the booking (see below).
  • Life-threatening or emergency requests should not be made via a bed bureau or single point of access. 
  • HCPs requesting an emergency ambulance for all patients who are aged 16 years or over and not pregnant will be asked for a National Early Warning Score (NEWS2).  Where this is not available, the HCP will be asked to provide a clinical reason for the emergency response. 

Please ensure that the patient is ready to travel prior to booking transport.  We require the following information at the time of booking:

NEWS2 (where available)

 

Patient’s mobility (walking /wheelchair/ stretcher / incubator – including type)

 

Summary of patient’s condition

 

Details of any patient infections

 

Name of authorising HCP

 

Advise if there are any family or clinical escorts

 

Contact details of authorising HCP

 

If the patient requires medication en route and is ready to travel

 

Location the patient needs collecting from

 

If the patient travel with others as part of a multi-occupancy journey

 

Destination (incl. ward/clinic)

 

Probability of clinical deterioration

 

Patient’s full name

 

Special requirements / instructions

 

Patient’s NHS number

 

Anything else you think we need to know about the patient or journey

 

 

NWAS is one of four ambulance services selected by NHS England to pilot the frameworks which have been developed by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) in collaboration with ambulance commissioners, NHS England, NHS Improvement and other key stakeholders. The frameworks are designed to bring consistency nationally and provide HCP requested transport in a timeframe that is equitable with other patients accessing 999 ambulance services. Both frameworks also recognise that in certain situations, a healthcare professional may require additional clinical assistance at scene alongside ambulance transport, in the event of a cardiac arrest for example.

To help make it as efficient as possible for HCPs to request ambulance transport, NWAS is producing a resource pack that will be available to download and print as required at www.nwas.nhs.uk/professionals.

Healthcare professional colleagues are asked to support NWAS by taking some time to familiarise themselves with the guidance available and to utilise emergency ambulances responsibly.  This includes considering whether it is appropriate for the patient to make their own way (e.g. private transport) or to book via Patient Transport Services (PTS) if they meet the eligibility criteria.  Thank you for your support.

Dr David Ratcliffe
MEDICAL DIRECTOR