Ensuring the best response to patients.

The situation

The volume of 111 calls for an ambulance is increasing because we are a growing, ageing population, with more chronic health needs - a situation you are all too familiar with. Currently we are asked to respond to too many calls urgently; we need to ensure we respond urgently only to immediately life threatening incidents. This enables better use of resources and – most importantly – will provide the best outcome for patients.

In response, we are making some changes to ensure we focus on connecting patients to the right care at the right time.

The changes

In our Ambulance Communication Centres we have changed the questions we ask when we receive calls where the patient has been assessed by a Doctor, Registered Nurse or Midwife.

Because of the clinical nature of these questions we ask that wherever possible, the calls are made by a Doctor, Registered Nurse or Midwife.

The questions

In order to determine the right care, we ask:

1.    Is the problem immediately life threatening or time critical?

2.    What is the provisional diagnosis (or chief complaint) of the patient?

The three types of ambulance response - Click here to view them

 You’ll see that this change to the questions we ask will help us identify and prioritise ambulance deployment against highest patient need within the whole community and get the best possible care to people.

And – along with Wellington Free Ambulance - we’ve introduced a new response system that allows us to look at work that’s non-urgent, not serious or life threatening, and if we are doing the best we can for these people – simply taking them to an Emergency Department is not always the best option for them.

  • The volume of 111 calls for an ambulance is increasing because we are a growing, ageing population, with more chronic health needs
  • Not all those calls require an ambulance (immediately or at all) or a trip to a hospital
  • The key objective here is to provide the most appropriate response to patients and make the best use of our resources
  • With the new system we are assigning ambulance resource based on getting the quickest response to immediately life threatening incidents – to the patients where response time is critical
  • So we’ll see an increase in the number of normal road speed responses and a reduction in the number of urgent responses unnecessarily using lights and sirens
  • Our priority will always be those most in need of our help
  • (With the new response system the terms Priority 1, 2, 3 are no longer used when responding, replaced by a five colour coded response system based on international best practice)
  • In addition, in Christchurch we are going to pilot having a further conversation with these people, and see if we can better match their needs with the healthcare options that are available (‘secondary triage’)
  • Some will still need an ambulance, some may be OK with advice, or with a suggestion that they see their GP. We want to help connect patients to the right care at the right time. These initiatives mean we can manage our resources better and the annual growth in the demand for our ambulance services
  • These initiatives are not about saving money; we appreciate ongoing Government support – from ACC and the Ministry of Health - and celebrate the strong support of the New Zealand community via donations, grants, bequests and the work of over 8,000 volunteers.

If you have any questions about any of the above please contact communications@stjohn.org.nz.





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