Non-emergency ambulance hotline

Shanghai opened a new ambulance hotline for taking patients with limited mobility home from hospitals.

SHANGHAI’S health and family planning commission yesterday opened a new ambulance hotline — 962120 — for taking patients with limited mobility home from hospitals.

It is the nation’s first ambulance hotline specifically for those leaving hospital — or non-emergency purposes. The new hotline is expected to ease the burden of medical emergency number 120.

The commission said people seeking emergency treatment had been rising steadily especially with the growing number of elderly population. But the problem arises when non-emergency patients also call the emergency hotline for ambulance, thus diverting the resources away from those who need them.

Zhu Qinzhong, director of Shanghai Medical Emergency Center, said it has nearly 3,000 medical emergency workers at its disposal, including 800 ambulances and 157 emergency stations, which means two neighborhoods can share a station.

In 2016, the center dispatched ambulances about 730,000 times — out of them about 13 percent was for non-emergency patients.

That number was higher last year when the ambulances were called about 760,000 times but the non-emergency cases had also risen to 16 percent.

The health and family planning commission then decided to classify the services under “emergency” and “non-emergency” needs.

The non-emergency service was for patients who had received treatment in a hospital but was unable to move or walk and needed help to go back home or to nursing homes.

The new 962120 hotline are for these people, who will have to make an appointment for ambulance service.

The service is currently only available in seven downtown districts in the city — Yangpu, Hongkou, Jing’an, Huangpu, Xuhui, Changning and Putuo.

The families of the patients or their relatives will have to make a booking a day in advance with the new hotline. If they want to cancel the booking they should call the hotline again and make the necessary changes.

People can also book the services on the Shanghai Medical Emergency Center’s official WeChat account.

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