999 callers assessed by Skype instead of being sent ambulance



Patients who phone 999 are being offered a video call assessment rather than an ambulance.

Video consultations using smartphone apps like Skype and FaceTime are being tested out in different areas of England for patients suffering from non-life-threatening conditions, such as falls or back pain.

The calls connect the patient with paramedics and nurses who assess their condition remotely, but there have been warnings that such video consultations can be unreliable. 

Details of scheme were revealed by a former call handler at South Central Ambulance Service.

The former 999 worker told the Daily Mail other controversial policies included refusing ambulances to those whose lives are not thought to be in immediate danger and preventing call handlers from giving medical advice to heart attack victims because of a shortage of time.

A spokesman for South Central Ambulance Service said they and other trusts were trialling the video consultations, and that they gave “the clinician more information when they are assessing the patient”.

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.

The trial began at nursing homes with frequent callers for the ambulance service. 



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