"Phone operator was not helpful"

About: South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust / Emergency ambulance

(as the patient),

Two weeks ago I had an eye injury when someone bashed me in the eye whilst I was out shopping. It caused the eye to bleed and I was in a state of shock and distress when the shop workers called for help, I'm not sure which number was called but they handed the phone to me so that I could speak to the operator.

I must say the operator person was not helpful, she had a army officer air about her, very harsh and no empathy asking questions and speaking to me as if I was stupid. In fact I just could not think clearly because of the shock and upset and worry about my bleeding eye, she just did not have any people skills.

I had to go through all the information all over again when the paramedics arrived because the information had not been passed through to them. They said they regularly had this problem.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››


Response from Laura Martin, Patient Engagement Administrator, Governance, South Western Ambulance Service

picture of Laura Martin

Dear Gradual219

Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. I hope you are recovering well.

I apologise that your experience did not meet your expectations, especially that you felt our call taker had no empathy.

The questions you were asked are part of our triage system; this is used by our call takers to understand the needs of the patient. The answers given to the questions posed will determine the route taken to deliver care and/or advice. We use the same triage system for our 999 service calls and NHS 111 calls. This system is widely used by similar services and was devised by clinicians to ensure that our service can provide the right care to patients. During this process key pieces of information, such as "eye injury", are passed to the paramedics however, due to the speed at which our ambulances are dispatched, this does not always reach them before they arrive with a patient. The most important part of the triage is to ensure the patient receives the right care as soon as possible.

The attending paramedic is likely to ask you the same questions again for many reasons. These would include checking if your symptoms have worsened, to get a better idea of how the injury occurred and also, in the event of a head injury such as yours, to check your recollection of the incident as loss of memory could indicate a more serious injury.

It is always our aim to deliver the highest quality of care to patients when they need it most. However, we understand that we do not always get it 100% right. We would be happy to look into the events surrounding your care on this occasion, but to do so we will need some more information from you. If you would like us to do this please may I ask you contact our Patient Experience Team on either swast.patientexperience@nhs.net or 01392 261 585 and a member of the team will be happy to help you further.

Thank you, again, for taking the time to provide us with feedback.

Kind regards


  • {{helpful}} of {{total()}} people think this response is helpful