Changes to 999 Call System

In May, the Department of Health (DoH) announced changes to prioritise the most critically ill patients, increase the number of ambulance service vehicles available to reach patients most in need and, reduce the number of ambulances and rapid response vehicles (RRVs) being stood down once dispatched.

The changes will ensure we identify from the information provided by the caller that the most seriously ill or injured patients get the best response. This will be done by separating the Red 1 (R1) incidents from the other Red incidents (R2s). The change will allow a little more time to consider the most appropriate response for the R2 patients and all those patients which the AMPDS system priorities as Green (G1-G4).

The R1 cases (previously sometimes known as Purple codes) will get an immediate response with the nearest resource dispatched similarly to the present practice. Like all other ambulance services in the country, NWAS is required to progress towards a new challenging standard of 80% of R1 incidents receiving an attendance at scene within 8-minutes, this will have to be achieved from April 2013. Regionally NWAS responds to around 100 R1 cases each day.

The standard for the R2 incidents remain the same with 75% of all R2 cases needing a response within 8-minutes (as now) but we will have a little more time at the beginning of the call to determine the most appropriate resource to send. NWAS deals with 900-950 R2 cases each day.

Over the coming weeks and months, the Operations Management Team will be working with staff side colleagues to develop the response arrangements to meet the new, demanding targets.

NWAS feel that this change will help focus our attention on those critical patients who really need immediate help while assisting in the reduction of crews being dispatched and then stood down continually, this latter point will help the Trust make best use of its clinical staff and resources.