Working with Health Care Professionals across the South West

In addition to providing a response to emergency 999 calls, the South Western Ambulance Service also responds to urgent requests from healthcare professionals, for hospital admissions and inter-hospital transfers.

SWASFT will be introducing a new process for managing healthcare professional calls within ambulance control rooms. The new process aims to ensure:

  • Easier process for HCPs, with questions designed to better determine the most appropriate response.
  • Equity of response for all seriously ill or injured patients, irrespective of whether a member of the public or healthcare professional calls the ambulance service. For the first time, the number and timeliness of response to healthcare professional calls will be reported separately, so that performance can be better monitored.
  • Recognition that in certain situations, a healthcare professional may require immediate clinical assistance in order to make a life-saving intervention, in addition to ambulance transportation.
  • Obstetric emergencies get the required category 1 response.
  • Alternative transport options are identified where available and clinically suitable.

The new system is being introduced during late July 2019, and your clinicians will notice a difference in the questions that they are being asked. The current system relies on healthcare professionals being fully aware of the detail of each type of ambulance response, in order to request the response required. The new system instead asks healthcare professionals to detail the clinical presentation and requirements of their patient. Call takers will use an electronic decision support tool developed by clinicians, to determine the most appropriate clinical level of response and time frame. The healthcare professional will be advised of the response determined and will of course still have an opportunity to request a higher response, if in their clinical judgement, one is required.

We fully appreciate that all parts of the NHS continue to be under significant pressure, and we are very grateful for all the support we get from our clinical colleagues. We hope that the new guide will support clinicians to consider using alternative methods of transport to get patients to hospital, where it is clinically safe and appropriate to do so. In many cases these methods may actually be quicker than waiting for an ambulance and by working together, we can ensure the best use of the finite ambulance resources in your area.

Further Resources

If it would be useful to discuss healthcare professional calls further, please email