A clinical triage team in the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust (WAST) has helped safely prevent thousands of ambulance journeys to hospital. as more than one in ten of 999 patient calls made over the last year have been triaged by WAST’s Integrated Care Team. This means that alternative care was provided instead of the patient being transported to hospital.
The Integrated Care Team comprises 83 clinicians – paramedics, nurses and mental health clinicians – across Wales. Trauma desk paramedics are also available to support and advise when a patient is seriously injured.
“We are really proud of this team, which is signposting patients to the most appropriate services, enabling patients to remain in their own homes and freeing up ambulances to respond to other urgent calls in the community.
“These are the paramedics and nurses who traditionally have helped patients face-to-face, but who are now applying their skills in a different way by triaging patients over the phone.”Penny Durrant, Service Manager for the Integrated Care Team.
Clinicians review waiting patients and speak directly to 999 callers to establish if other methods of response might be suitable, or whether it is safe to discharge the person at scene, and to ensure the priority assigned to the call does not need to be changed.
In the last 12 months, the Integrated Care Team has been involved with 96,572 calls, which represents about 25 per cent of all 999 activity for the year.
Of those calls, 39,269 have been managed with clinical advice by telephone and avoided the patient being taken to hospital in an ambulance. This frees up ambulance resources to respond to other urgent calls in the community.
The approach was supported with funding from the Welsh Government.