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Ambulance service trials video apps for 999 calls

Patients who ring the ambulance service on 999 could soon be assessed via video-call technology such as Skype if their condition is deemed not life-threatening.
Video call

Patients who ring the ambulance service on 999 could soon be assessed via video-call technology such as Skype if their condition is deemed not life-threatening.

A trial is underway to see if face-to-face smartphone apps could allow clinicians to make more accurate decisions by viewing injuries, the South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) revealed.

The authority, which covers four regions in southern England, said the move could help offset the difficulties posed by diagnosing a patient over the phone without being able to see them. It said other ambulance trusts were also testing out the idea.

Many social media apps now offer video-calling services, including Facebook and WhatsApp.

More information

A spokesperson for SCAS said: We are currently trialling the use of technology to provide face-to-face

Patients who ring the ambulance service on 999 could soon be assessed via video-call technology such as Skype if their condition is deemed not life-threatening.


Video-call apps may help improve patient safety during telephone assessments, the ambulance service said. Picture: iStock

A trial is underway to see if face-to-face smartphone apps could allow clinicians to make more accurate decisions by viewing injuries, the South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) revealed.

The authority, which covers four regions in southern England, said the move could help offset the difficulties posed by diagnosing a patient over the phone without being able to see them. It said other ambulance trusts were also testing out the idea.

Many social media apps now offer video-calling services, including Facebook and WhatsApp.

‘More information’

A spokesperson for SCAS said: ‘We are currently trialling the use of technology to provide face-to-face consultations over the telephone, as are other ambulance trusts. This was started at certain nursing homes who were frequent callers to our service.

‘This gives the clinician more information when they are assessing the patient, as they can see the patient and view the injury severity and symptoms. The patient can see the clinician, which improves the experience of the assessment they receive.

‘There are some injuries or conditions that are more challenging to assess over the phone with no visual aid and this trial provides increased patient safety during a telephone assessment.’

Peak demand

The ambulance service also revealed that during times of peak demand it operates a ‘no send’ policy for its vehicles to the lowest-risk patients.

SCAS said this was to allow it to prioritise those most at risk if resources are under strain.

It added that during such times, a taxi company works with the authority to provide an alternative mode of transport if no ambulances are available.


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