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