Elliot Steel |

St John is rolling out improvements to how it manages 111 calls across the Southern Region from Monday December 4, 2017, following successful results in Northern, Central and Nelson/Marlborough regions.

If a caller is assessed as needing an ambulance urgently, St John will send one as soon as possible. If an urgent ambulance response is not required, St John will determine the best treatment for the patient by using a phone triage system.

This is a proven, internationally recognised system known as the 111 Clinical Hub here in New Zealand.

St John National Patient Pathways Manager Kris Gagliardi says that the main advantage of the Clinical Hub is improved patient care.

“It provides patients who have non-urgent illnesses and injuries with appropriate levels of care closer to home by having an experienced nurse or paramedic call the patient back and undertake a detailed assessment,” Gagliardi says.

More than 121,000 emergency 111 calls for an ambulance originate in the South Island each year. St John’s priority is always to send emergency responses as quickly as possible to those in most urgent need.

“Over 34 per cent of the South Island calls are for non-urgent (not serious or immediately life threatening) issues like boils, constipation, piles, cramps, gout and ear ache and could potentially divert ambulance resources away from someone in more urgent need.

“What’s more, there are better, often faster, ways of managing these calls over the phone, finding more appropriate care, thereby freeing up ambulance resources to focus on the increasing number of ‘high acuity’ or urgent and life threatening incidents.

“This can also help reduce the more than 120,000 presentations to South Island hospital emergency departments each year,” Gagliardi says.

The Clinical Hub will be implemented across Canterbury, South Canterbury, West Coast and Southern District Health Board (DHB) areas from December 4, 2017, having been in place in other parts of New Zealand since May 2014. This will complete the roll out to all DHB areas across the country.

In the Canterbury region this service will be an expansion of an already existing and successful ambulance secondary 111 call triage system that was set up post the 2012 Christchurch earthquake.

To help connect patients to the right care at the right time, 111 calls that are triaged by a call handler will see a combination of St John paramedics and nurses provided by Homecare Medical, doing enhanced clinical assessment of low acuity calls. 

The most appropriate pathway for that caller may then include options such as self-care, referral to a general practitioner, referral to an urgent care clinic, or St John responding with an ambulance or alternative vehicle to treat the patient without transporting them to an emergency department (ED). 


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