999 changes ‘will save lives’

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Changes to the 999 call handling system before the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee could save at least 150 lives each year, the Department of Health has said.

The overhaul will ensure the most critically ill patients are prioritised and should save ambulances from making more than half a million wasted journeys a year. It is hoped the new system will keep many more vehicles available for the most serious emergencies, increasing the chances of survival for anyone who suffers a cardiac arrest.

From next month, staff answering 999 calls will categorise patients using a two-tier system.