'Ambulance service - okay tell me exactly what's happened'

HEOC dispatcher

With an average of 2,300 999 calls coming into the region every day, there is rarely a quiet moment for our three EOCs.

Although the vast majority of our calls are answered immediately, there are occasional times when all call handlers in an EOC will be taking calls so don’t have capacity to answer new ones coming in.

When these rare incidences occur, there is a delay in answering the call whilst BT connect the call to a different EOC.

But that is about to change. The Trust is investing in regional telephony so that 999 calls can be moved between our control rooms automatically if all the call handlers in the original EOC are busy.

This will only happen as an overflow process, so as an example:

Mr Smith calls 999 from Colchester. His call goes through to Chelmsford EOC, but they’re facing a particular spike in calls and all of their call handlers are on the phone dealing with patients. Mr Smith’s call will be automatically passed to Bedford or Norwich EOC, so Mr Smith will speak with a call handler there instead. The job will then be placed on the dispatch screen  at Chelmsford EOC for the relevant resource to be deployed.

This development will help to give us better resilience when call volumes spike in a particular control room (or if a control room fails), but more importantly it will mean our patients get a swift and effective service every time they call us.

This system has already been implemented in Norfolk for the 111 service; although there were a few initial teething problems which we can learn from this time around, the system is now running with great success and the team have said that their performance and the service they give to patients has “been greatly improved.”

The timescales for the project are to be confirmed, but we’re hoping to launch in July.

Published 3rd June, 2014

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