As­sess­ing needs of pa­tients is all in a day’s work

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - NEWS -

Af­ter a ca­reer as a staff nurse in neu­rol­ogy at the Queen El­iz­a­beth Uni­ver­sity Hos­pi­tal, nurse prac­ti­tioner David Barnes wanted a new chal­lenge so jumped at the op­por­tu­nity to care for peo­ple who are too ill to wait un­til their GP prac­tice re­opens.

David’s new role at NHS 24, which he started in Fe­bru­ary, is to triage call­ers who phone the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s 111 ser­vice and as­sess how se­ri­ous their con­di­tion is be­fore point­ing them in the right di­rec­tion.

As a staff nurse he has worked over many fes­tive sea­sons, but this will be his first at NHS 24 an­swer­ing a wide va­ri­ety of calls.

David, who is based at the Car­don­ald cen­tre in Glas­gow’s south­side, said: “NHS 24’s 111 ser­vice pro­vides a triage so peo­ple can dis­cuss any health is­sues of con­cern dur­ing the out-ofhours pe­riod. No one phones you when they are hav­ing a good day; they’re al­ways hav­ing a bad day.

“Tre­ble ‘1’ should be called if they have tried treat­ing symp­toms at home and they per­sist. Tre­ble ‘9’ is a med­i­cal emer­gency if you be­lieve some­one’s life is at risk or if you have had a heart at­tack or have car­diac symp­toms and need as­sis­tance.”

Of­ten peo­ple call 111 as they don’t want to bother any­body and need re­as­sur­ance, but in some cases they ac­tu­ally need ur­gent med­i­cal as­sis­tance, as David ex­plained: “Some peo­ple maybe aren’t aware that they are hav­ing a car­diac ar­rest, stroke or heart at­tack, they just want to be told they are al­right, but of­ten they are not.

“We triage ev­ery­body in the same way, by rul­ing out any­thing se­ri­ous. When we can­not rule that out, I pass that call on to the ap­pro­pri­ate lo­cal ser­vice and that might be the Scot­tish Am­bu­lance Ser­vice.”

As you would ex­pect, David and his col­leagues have dealt with a wide va­ri­ety of cases.

David added: “I have re­ceived calls about hang­overs. Peo­ple have also called say­ing they are in ex­treme 10-out-of-10 pain but when we ask them if they have taken parac­eta­mol they say they don’t like tak­ing painkillers.

“First and fore­most, if you are in pain, try sim­ple pain medicine first. If you need non­emer­gency as­sis­tance, phone us, we can get you that help, that’s why we ex­ist.”

David, a father-of-one, is on duty over Christ­mas and if you call 111 over the fes­tive sea­son, he will be one of the voices on the phone that could save your life.

Nurse David Barnes works to triage pa­tients call­ing 111

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