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New support project reduces calls to SAS by over 55%

A new initiative is underway to provide greater support to persistent callers to the 999 service in an effort to direct patients to the best health service provider for their needs.  

The Scottish Ambulance Service’s new High Intensity Users team has been set up to try and improve care for patients with complex needs, whilst reducing demand on 999 services.

During a 12-week period, the team identified 137 patients who regularly call 999 for assistance whose needs to be better met by other parts of the health service. The team provided intervention and support to them, educated them on how to access best healthcare services for their needs and encouraged them to only call 999 in an emergency.

Prior to the team’s help and support in their care, these patients had collectively generated 4502 emergency calls. Following engagement and education, these patients generated 2017 emergency calls – a 55% reduction.

Neil Reid, Clinical Effectiveness Lead High Intensity Users, said the SAS process for identifying persistent callers was first to gather intelligence on the user’s call data and then make the patient and GP aware. This was followed by intervention, escalating support and then a case review.

He said: “Many of these callers have complex needs and call 999 regularly throughout the day for assistance. By engaging directly with them to better understand their needs and reasons for calling 999, we were able to educate them on some alternatives more suited to their needs.

“In some cases, we have found that we have been able to identify unmet social needs or mental health crisis earlier, patients are involved in decisions relating to their care and this has led to better outcomes.

“This work is vital as it improves care and support for patients across the country.”



Contact Information

Scottish Ambulance Press Office

Notes to editors

Note to Editors

  • A persistent caller or High Intensity User (HIU) is described by SAS as a person aged 18 or over who generates five incidents or more in a month from a private dwelling or someone who is challenging due to high numbers of duplicate calls to 999.