Our Clinical Support Desk - driving change in your local ambulance service
Based in Bicester (Oxon), Wokingham (Berks) and Otterbourne (Hants) South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust's Clinical Support Desks (CSD) form an integral part of your local ambulance service's Emergency Operations Centre.
On average, of the 1030 calls we receive every day, only 29% are potentially life threatening. In some cases patients dial 999 simply because they don't know what else to do and not every patient needs an ambulance response, or to be taken to hospital. Indeed, of all the patients we attend some 40% of them are not conveyed to hospital.
Our 3 Clinical Support Desks, staffed by Nurses and Emergency Care Practitioners, comprise an essential part of our 3 Emergency Control Centres. CSD practitioners work alongside our call takers and dispatchers to ensure that our patients receive the right response at the right time and in the right place for them. Patients are reassured and assessed over the phone. Those who do not need an ambulance response are offered another route to treatment. CSD practitioners may arrange a visit from a GP or social worker, provide patients with simple first aid advice or refer patients to a local Walk-in Centre or pharmacy ensuring they get the right treatment for them. Where necessary and appropriate this may include dispatching an ambulance resource to convey them to hospital.
Carla Macfarlan, who spent 7 years working as a Sister in a hospital A&E Department seeing and assessing patients, diagnosing and treating those with minor injuries before joining our Clinical Support Desk, said:
'Being a Nurse in an Emergency Control Centre is a great job. It's very satisfying still being involved in emergency care at the beginning of a patient's journey. Assessing a patient over the phone is very different from assessing a patient face to face. Working for the local ambulance service I needed to develop new ways of assessing patients and new ways of questioning them to get the information I need to ensure they get the care they need. This may include explaining why they do not need an ambulance response and referring them to care pathways and treatment routes they were not aware of.'
If you are suffering from a life-threatening emergency, such as a heart attack, severe loss of blood, difficulty breathing or a serious accident, dial 999 immediately.
If you are not suffering from a life-threatening emergency but require medical advice or treatment there are several different options available to you. You can:
- Call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 (24hrs)
- Call your Out of Hours GP Service
- Go to your local Walk-in-Centre or your minor injuries unit
- Go to your local accident and emergency (A&E) department.
Our Clinical Support Desks also provide support to our front line crews and can act as a 'sounding board' for them and provide clinical advice to them in patient facing situations.
Published 23 April 2012