Exploring variation in ambulance calls and conveyance rates for adults with diabetes mellitus who contact the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service: a retrospective database analysis

Aoife Watson, Benjamin Clubbs Coldron, Benjamin Wingfield, Nigel Ruddell, Chris Clarke, Siobhan Masterson, Donna McConnell, Vivien Coates

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Abstract

Background

People with diabetes frequently contact the ambulance service about acute problems. Overall, treating diabetes and its associated complications costs the NHS 10% of the annual budget. Reducing unnecessary hospital admissions and ambulance attendances is a high priority policy for the NHS across the UK. This study aimed to determine the characteristics of emergency calls for people with diabetes who contact the ambulance service and are subsequently conveyed to hospital by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS).

Methods

A retrospective dataset from the NIAS was obtained from the NIAS Trust's Command and Control system relating to calls where the final complaint group was 'Diabetes' for the period 1 January 2017 to 23 November 2019.

Results

Of a total 11,396 calls related to diabetes, 63.2% of callers to the NIAS were conveyed to hospital. Over half of the calls related to males, with 35.5% of callers aged 60-79. The more deprived areas had a higher frequency of calls and conveyance to hospital, with this decreasing as deprivation decreased. Calls were evenly distributed across the week, with the majority of calls originating outside of GP working hours, although callers were more likely to be conveyed to hospital during working hours. Calls from healthcare professionals were significantly more likely to be conveyed to hospital, despite accounting for the minority of calls.

Conclusion

This research found that older males were more likely to contact the ambulance service but older females were more likely to be conveyed to hospital. The likelihood of conveyance increased if the call originated from an HCP or occurred during GP working hours. The availability of alternative care pathways has the potential to reduce conveyance to hospital, which has been particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Integration of data is vitally important to produce high quality research and improve policy and practice in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-23
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Paramedic Journal
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding
This project is supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU
Programmes Board (SEUPB). The views and opinions
expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect the
views of the European Commission or the Special EU
Programmes Board (SEUPB).

© 2021 The Author(s).

Keywords

  • diabetes mellitus
  • emergency medical services

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