Finally, in the news this week, an article from EMSWorld.com on a new London Ambulance Service program that is paying bonuses to dispatchers if they can reduce the number of ambulances dispatched to calls. This could be a slippery slope according to some paramedics in the system.
Dispatchers Sort Through 911 Calls
Patient advocates have similar concerns. In the UK, systems are different than we use here in the U.S. EMS is part of their National Health Service system and dispatchers can refer patients to other aspects of the health system so this isn’t as wild a situation as it might seem. The fact of the matter is, dispatchers can make some determinations on the severity of the call based on their call-taking algorithms. When a patient calls with a cough or cold, they don’t necessarily need an ambulance.
They need some type of health care attention, of course, but that care would be better serviced by a primary care or clinic resource and not a full emergency response that an ambulance represents. I’m not as shocked as others are at this article. As the London Ambulance Service director Paul Woodrow points out, they are very busy and are not currently meeting goals for getting ambulances to the most serious patients in a timely fashion.
Phone Triage Done Right by Dispatchers
Diverting ambulances from less important calls is what dispatch is supposed to do, this system is just quantifying a method to encourage dispatchers to not get lazy and just send an ambulance to every caller. I get it but I’m sure you have an opinion, too so shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts or leave a comment on this article or the show notes of this episode.
Make sure you check out the links to this news item and all of the additional resource links available for you over at the MedicCast site and in the show notes for this episode — EMS Hepatitis Review and Episode 319.