Hospital and Telephone Triage

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Carrying out telephone triage, certain groups of people, I would imagine, will give you a bit of a challenge. I am thinking of very old people, very young people, people with learning difficulties and maybe sometimes people phone by accident to 111. How is that dealt with?

So any call that comes into 111, it is treated as a real call, the demographics will be taken as much as possible. It is possible that children actually do ring 111, it is a number that is publicised widely for people to contact for health advice. And it may be that a child is actually reaching out for some help rather than going to an adult for whatever reason. And in that incident, that child would probably need a safeguarding referral submitted again locally. But elderly people, vulnerable, lonely, elderly people, may ring 111 just as a chat, see it as a chat advice line. It is a health advice line; however, again, demographics will be taken and that patient will be directed to an appropriate service that can support them, maybe just to help them with their anxiety or living alone, etcetera.

Another problem patient, not problem patients, but barriers to dealing with patients maybe if a patient's language is not... They do not speak fluent English, maybe broken English. We discussed previously that you may be able to speak to a relative to gain information. However, in the 111 services particularly, we can use Language Line. It makes the consultation more protracted. However, it will make the information that you gain more credibility. So there are ways and means of dealing with these additional groups of patients.

Right, I guess using somewhere like Language Line makes it safer.

It is safer, you are definitely safer and makes your notes more credible as well. Do not try and bimble your way through a conversation that is very difficult.

Making assumptions, that sort of thing.

Exactly, and at the end, again, summarise just to make sure that what you have been discussed is actually what you sort of receive in documenting.

So, what about the wrong numbers?

Well, yeah, I can give you an example where somebody has thought they have rung the police non-emergency line, which is actually the 101 and they've rung 111 by mistake. Obviously, it caused a little bit of confusion when the call handlers actually spoke to them, but even though it is an accidental contact, all the details are still taken. And if we think that we can offer any signposting to other appropriate services, we will do before we direct them to the police non-emergency line. So yeah, we would still take that and then, say, if children accidentally dial, we will still take that detail as well.