Skip to main content Skip to navigation

New Research Says Communication Problems Affect One in Four 999 Ambulance Calls

Originally Published 5 October 2001

Researchers at the University of Warwick and Birmingham University, working closely with the West Midlands Ambulance Service and Derbyshire Ambulance Service, have found that communication problems affect more than a quarter of emergency ambulance calls according to research published in this month's BMJ.

A sample of 999 calls received by West Midlands Ambulance Service and Derbyshire Ambulance Service during one week of December 1998 was assessed for communication difficulties. Of 1830 calls, 26% calls were associated with a communication problem that delayed ambulance dispatch or prevented delivery of first aid advice. This number grew to 50% when looking only at mobile and payphone calls. The emotional state of the caller was the most common reason for communication problems occurring.

The researchers believe that although the increasing use of mobile phones may help to reduce the time taken to notify the emergency services, the advantages of this must be weighed against the high rate of communication problems.

The researchers also believe that more use (where available) of a standard land line, further public education about the information required when making 999 calls, and some additional appropriate further training of public service personnel, may reduce the extent of communication problems.

For further information please contact:

Dr Matthew Cooke
Mobile 0706 995 0048
Joanne Higgins
Mobile 0781 2240266
Centre for Primary Health Care Studies
University of Warwick

Peter Dunn, Press Officer, University of Warwick
Tel: 024 7652 3708


Further information about the above press release and all other media services at the University of Warwick can be obtained from:

Peter Dunn, Press and Media Relations Manager
Communications Office
University House
The University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 8UW

Tel: +44 (0)24 7652 3708
Fax: +44 (0)24 7652 8194
Mobile: +44 (0)7767 655 860