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Hear & Treat

All calls received by Ambulance Control are prioritised based upon the clinical need of the patient and the urgency of the ambulance. If a patient’s condition is assessed as potentially life threatening the nearest available ambulance will be dispatched.

However, from autumn 2015 patients calling 999 and, after assessment, having ruled out any potentially life threatening or urgent medical conditions,  or some patients calling with specific non urgent clinical conditions, may be assessed by clinicians based within Ambulance Control who refer patients to local clinical services that are more appropriate to deal with the patient’s condition.

Please read some examples of ‘Hear, Treat and Refer’ in action:


Aoife is a 23 year old student. Her friend has contacted the ambulance service because she has had a fever for a number of days and has developed a cough. A paramedic speaks directly with Aoife who reveals she has had a “temperature of 38 degrees” for 2 days and is also coughing up green gunk.

The paramedic checks that Aoife is normally fit and well with no medical history and has not been travelling in the last few months. After completing a structured and thorough telephone assessment, the paramedic believes Aoife has a chest infection. The paramedic advises Aoife to take some paracetamol, drink some water and make an appointment with her GP.

Aoife made a full recovery within a few days and is currently preparing for her final exams.


Elizabeth is a 40 year old mum of 3 who works full time as a receptionist.

Elizabeth developed a headache at work and came home. Her husband called the ambulance service as Elizabeth “is never sick”. The call is transferred through to a paramedic working on the Clinical Support Desk for secondary triage.

The paramedic attempts to talk to Elizabeth but her husband states she would rather just lie in a dark room. He reveals that she has taken 2 ibuprofen which hasn’t helped. The paramedic asks a number of questions regarding how the headache developed, where on her head the pain is and the type of pain she is experiencing. Her husband states that the pain is isolated to the side of her head and came on very suddenly. The paramedic recognises that these are worrying signs and sends an ambulance to take Elizabeth to hospital.

Elizabeth was diagnosed with a brain haemorrhage but made a full recovery following a 5 day hospital stay.