Redirected to ReDirect

Dial 999 and get NHS 24

Seems that the Scottish Ambulance Service have decided to play NHS Redirect, or NHS 24 as it’s called in Scotland, at their own game.

Non-urgent 999 calls are to be passed to NHS 24 for telephone triage rather than having an ambulance sent out. No doubt NHS 24 will redirect them back again.

Already the popular press are up in arms.

PATIENTS’ lives could be put at risk under plans to divert some 999 calls to the NHS 24 helplineThe Scotsman

Opposition politicians raised fears yesterday that the move would confuse patients and potentially delay emergency treatment for seriously ill peopleThe Herald

Under the controversial plan, thousands of patients calling for an ambulance would instead receive a phone call to assess the situation before a decision would be made to send an ambulance.The Evening Times

Is a merger on the cards? A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said:

“There are no plans to amalgamate the Scottish Ambulance Service and NHS 24 – BBC

Better watch out guys – that’s as good as saying it’s going to happen.

P.S. A number of regular commentators to this blog have mentioned that SAS are planning to shut all the stations and have crews out on cover – sounds very reminiscent of Staffordshire under Roger (insane) Thayne. I couldn’t find anything about this on the web – has it not been officially announced yet? Can anyone send me details?


12 Responses to Redirected to ReDirect

  1. ecparamedic says:

    Using ReDirect isn’t anything new, I hope the Scots can make the it work for them rather than playing telephone ping pong with cut fingers and haemorrhoids.

  2. Lucy says:

    We tend to call it NHS ‘WAIT’ 24.

    All I can say about this latest “innovation” is be afraid, be very afraid.


  3. kimthevet says:

    I called NHS 24 over Christmas (I live in Edinburgh, and needed to see the out of hours GP, and the only way you can get through to them if you are registered with the practice that ).

  4. kimthevet says:

    oops, sorry, continued from previous half-comment… …that i am, is to call NHS 24.)

    I vainly tried to explain to the call handler at NHS24 that I needed to be put through to the out of hours GP service, but to no avail, apparently the only way was to speak to the NHS 24 nurse first.

    Within 1 minute of our conversation, the nurse, who was one of the rudest telephonists I have ever heard (If only she read this blog…Hi by the way if you do..) said ‘right I’m calling you an ambulance’. I asked her not to. Tried to explain that my condition, even though it had deteriorated a little was still eminently manageable at home – I’ve been managing it for 15 years, I just needed to see the out of hours GP. I certainly wasn’t going to be helped by 4 hours on a trolley in A and E. I tried to explain this to RudeNurse, but she was having none of it. She said if i refused to go in the ambulance the crew would force me to go (like how??…do crews now have powers of section, how could you section/abduct mentally competent but physically unwell people under Scottish law anyway?). She then dispatched the call for the ambulance without my consent and a rather fed up crew arrived at my flat 7 minutes later. All I could do was apologise to them, and to A and E…

    I won’t be calling NHS24 again in a hurry. I might just have to unethically treat myself out of hours. It just seemed such an absurd waste of resources… I really wonder how they’ll be able to deal any better with referrals from paramedics than they did with me…

  5. Iain MacBain says:

    kimthevet, welcome to my world. I would say that your experience is becomming the norm and that ambulance crews expect to be met by someone who did not want them.

    As I understand it the “new” system has been the way it has always worked, with the initial triage being done be EMDC call takers. The ones that slip through I simply re-redirect to NHS 24/DIRECT. The system just dont work, but it seems to get the appropriate care – it may take an extra 4 or 5 hours.

    Believe me though, we will not make you go to hospital. This is kidnapping and is not good on your CV.

    Similar rants are here:-

    Edinburgh. Yip,it’s not just on the cards its all going ahead. Doubt you’ll find anythig yet as it’s the SAS who are doing this with, despite what they will say, the complete resentment of the staff. When it’s announce with fireworks and glory in the press think of my mate there and the other staff (aprox 100 of them) who will be fighting over the 17 car parking spaces. Yip – seventeen – one then seven , 17 spaces.

    There is going to be one “super station” where crews will pick up a bus and be sent to stand by on fire stations. The firies are being paid (i am led to believe) £500,000 a year for this facility. The super station is in one of the worst areas of the city where even the police car park has security fencing. It wont be nice.

  6. Iain MacBain says:

    All I could find was this, with regard to the new Edinburgh station. Strange that average responce times are 7.9minutes — massaging I would think.

  7. Miriam says:

    Interesting! thanks! 🙂

  8. kevinmillhill says:

    The Scottish Service’s Executive Board has (or “hasn’t”) two recent”Disappeareds”. Firstly Ms Mary Newman (Aka “The Invisible Woman”) – possibly the shortest-lived Operations Director in any outfit, ever; and Secondly – Mr Andrew Marsden (our ex- Medical Director) who suffered from the opposite problem, in that we thought we’d never be rid of him and his notions. Both have left to “spend more time with their families”. We thus face the future with a slimmed-down Board (possibly “plank”) answerable directly to the continuing and robust leadership of the excellent Mr Adrian Lucas – a man steady under fire, and whose personal motto “Today’s Headlines Are Tomorrow’s Chip Wrappers” should be engraved on every dashboard and desk.
    I have management experience outside the NHS; I am pushing 60, have nearly 20 years in the Service, still happily sit behind the wheel of an ambulance, and have been co-opted onto several projects over the years. I believe that I can offer a unique perspective on Ambulance Caledonia and the changes that continue to amble steadily onwards therein. (If anyone wants to argue, I’ll happily do so).
    Now, I’ll get to the point. I have been reading the bulletins being pushed out by the Board recently; not only that, I’ve been taking the time to understand them. Perhaps I’m naive in believing what these bulletins say re the NHS24 thing, and I’ll happily be corrected. However – my understanding is quite simply that we’ve suffered 4 years of NHS24 ‘s dumping their patients on to us, just because we have no way of efficiently dumping them back again. The result has been that we’ve all turned up at dozens of calls where the patient hadn’t asked for an ambulance, and where one was not needed. EMDCs are designed almost almost exclusively to take incoming calls and to despatch ambulances They are NOT designed for arguing with incoming callers, discussing treatment strategies, or for diverting calls elswhere. This perfectly reasonable one-way approach has made it almost impossible to have a discussion with NHS24 without tying up increasing numbers of the Dispatchers’ emergency lines, and it has taken us 4 years to start thinking about it.
    Now some clever IT proto-work has been done, giving the EMDCs the ability, (thus far, just embryonic) not only to bounce NHS24’s miscategorisations back to them, but to transfer daft 999s from our system to theirs.
    Maybe I’m silly, but that seems like progress to me!!
    Furthermore, our two outfits (both national, so that should have been a bit of a clue a few years ago) are finally actually sitting down together (at coalface level) – twiddling procedures, systems, protocols – and all those other abstracts and privatives we love so much – so that they begin to match and mesh. Again – is this retrograde, or forward ?
    Answers on a chip wrapper please.

  9. Iain MacBain says:

    Kevinmillhill, good points and well made. Do you see it working though?

  10. kevinmillhill says:

    Dear Iain,
    You may gather from the above – and from previous posts – that I have real confidence in certain members of our Board – in particular, the gaffer. Remember, he’s done the job on the ground, and we’ve hung on to him for 8 years; most of the other execs have been with us almost as long. That – allied to the fact that the Board is now almost exclusively composed of Skilled Survivors – gives us great strength and stability.
    Our Board seems to have become a kind of guerilla outfit, possessed (inter alia, of course) of the knowledge, experience, wit, and low cunning needed to keep the service away from the sticky, meddling fingers of know-nothing politicians. It runs rings round would-be grandstanders out to impose their own pet ideas, and we potter onwards – (97 extra staff (20% increase) recruited on to the front line in Glasgow last autumn , for instance) – into a moderately certain future.
    Whilst services south of the border have been blown at the whim of politicians, management consultants, and people who once worked for M&S, we just seem to cruise gently on. The unions and the Board get on well; fashionable rows come and go; but change gets steadily implemented. “To men of good intent, determined to achieve agreement, all things are possible.” The outfit bears little resemblance to the one I joined in the late 80s; nevertheless, it continues to be efficient; we keep pace; and the Scots people regard us as a national treasure . (Feel free to use that – it came from a conversation I had with our Press Officer, and he was quoting from focus group studies).
    So, the answer to your question is – “Yes, I do”
    When the troops aren’t complaining, that’s the time to worry. Nothing we have implemented during my time has worked perfectly at the first kick – what ever does? – and we have a perfect right to gripe. (Not that it would stop us if we hadn’t!). On the other hand, griping has never stopped us from wittering away at things until we get them up and running. I don’t think that the NHS24 thing will be any different. In my experience, once the decision has been taken to stick us with something, we are outstandingly good at making it bloody well work!!
    Except for that awful uniform……………..!

  11. Iain MacBain says:

    I hope thet your right Kevinmillhill. I too have respect for those that keep things evolving and like the way the service is moving. I whinge as much as anyone, more infact, but think things are generally good with the service.

    My concerns are that the system will be set up in such a way that it will be the road crews that take respnsibility for making a flawed system function. Who really fills in the various forms etc. reporting a spurious job fromNHS 24. The feeling is that noting will be done and certainly when I have completed one I hear nothing about it. It’s simpler and quicker to find your own war around the obsticles that are there.

    Education of the public on the use of 999 is, ultimatly, the answer but as things stand with NHS 24 we need to educate them too.

    I hope things merge iinto a comprehensive system but fear that it will be the likes of you and me that are left filling in the holes, much as we do today.

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