Who makes high use of the emergency ambulance services and how are services responding to meet the needs of these patients?

Session Chair: Professor Helen Snooks, Swansea Medical School, Swansea University


Most people call or attend emergency healthcare services rarely, but a small minority make very high use of these crisis services, which may cause or reinforce negative stereotypes about this population. Approximately half of patients contact emergency services for a mental health problem; with other conditions related to falls, addiction and social isolation also commonly presenting. Multiple presentations for complex problems to overstretched services causes operational difficulties as well as being frustrating for patients, the ambulance service and ED practitioners.

In this session practitioners, service users and researchers from across the UK will present and discuss the background, importance, current initiatives and evidence status for the care of people who make very high use of emergency health care services. In some areas, a multi-disciplinary case management approach is being taken to the management of high users of the emergency ambulance and ED services, but in other areas, initiatives exclude patients who repeatedly call the 999 ambulance service. Typically, case management models include regular meetings of clinicians and managers from a variety of settings including the ambulance service, ED, primary care, community mental health, district nursing, occupational health, the police and third sector organisations.