The success of a Sydney trial aimed at better managing the care of chronic illness sufferers and reducing the number of triple-0 calls will likely lead to a freeing up of health resources in the Illawarra, according to a high-ranking paramedic.
The trial used a combined health services approach to target 18 of Sydney’s most frequent ambulance callers, achieving a 45 per cent reduction in triple-0 calls made by the patients.
Illawarra Ambulance NSW zone manager Paul Tonge said because the Sydney program had been deemed a success, he believed a similar trial would soon be rolled out in the Illawarra.
‘‘What the program in Sydney did was to have personal contact with the patient,’’ he said.
‘‘A senior manager from the ambulance service and somebody from the local health district, and very often someone from a mental health team [would] go and sit with the patient and work out a care and action plan.’’
As part of the trial, NSW Ambulance conducted research that revealed 497 of the most frequent callers were responsible for 10,124 calls, costing NSW $8.4 million between 2011 and 2012. This figure did not include hospital emergency department costs.
Mr Tonge said the trial was not aimed at people who called triple-0 for help with ‘‘changing a lightbulb’’, but worked with chronic illness sufferers who often had no other option.
‘‘Very often they feel they have no alternative but to call triple-0,’’ he said. ‘‘At end of the day it’s about the best care for the patient.’’
The trial would also likely lead to less strain on emergency department employees, such as doctors and nurses, Mr Tonge said.
It was important to remind residents to call in an emergency, and just because a patient was a frequent caller, it didn’t mean paramedics wouldn’t respond.