IN A bid to ease pressure on paramedics 999 calls are being referred to other services.

Disappointing ambulance response times prompted Bolton health bosses to ask the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) to explain how they were going to improve things.

Performance has just begun to improve in the last few months said NWAS bosses after adjusting to a new way of working.

This new way includes different methods of treating patients who call for the least serious cases, category three and four calls.

READ MORE: Worries over Bolton's 'sea of red' ambulance figures

A spokesman for NWAS said: "A large number of 999 calls fall into categories three and four and because they do not necessarily require an emergency response, these calls can expect to wait longer for care as we must prioritise those in a serious condition first.

"The Government asks that we aim to respond to these incidents between two and three hours.

"This could include patients who have fallen without significant injury or urine infections."

When someone dials 999 they are asked a series of questions to help categorise the call based on its severity.

Prioritising the most serious, category one and two calls, means paramedics stand a better chance of hitting their seven minute response time target.

The spokesman said: "To help us give our patients the most appropriate care for them, we have put greater emphasis on providing care in the community wherever possible.

“This can be both over the phone by clinicians working in our emergency operations centre or face to face with healthcare practitioners who are specially equipped to treat people on scene.

“We’re able to work with colleagues across the healthcare sector including GPs and occupational therapists who are able to provide prescriptions or put in place provisions around the home to help reduce falls.

“As well as avoiding unnecessary A&E admissions, this helps free up our ambulances and clinicians to treat patients in an immediately life-threatening condition."

This method is called "Hear and Treat", and "See and Treat".

NWAS bosses showed Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group members that between October 2017 and February this year the percentage of calls dealt with over the phone (Hear and Treat) had gone from around two per cent to around seven per cent.

In this time the number dealt with in the community had remained around the 25 per cent mark.

  • 999 is for life-threatening emergencies. NHS 111 Online can provide help and advice for those who need help urgently and unsure where to turn.