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Danish health authority gives patients 'queue jump' button for acute calls

The Local Denmark
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Danish health authority gives patients 'queue jump' button for acute calls
Many people in Denmark can now use an 'acute button' to shorten phone waiting times in medical emergencies. Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

The South Denmark regional health authority has introduced an ‘acute button’ to allow patients to jump telephone queues if they need to speak to a medic urgently.

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The normal queue to speak to the on-call medical service (lægevagt) over the telephone can now be skipped by pressing ‘9’ while on hold, Region South Denmark said in a statement.

All of Denmark’s five regional health authorities have an out-of-hours telephone line on which residents can call doctors during acute illness or ahead of presenting at an accident or emergency department at hospital.

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This number is used by patients who have been hurt or fallen ill outside of normal doctors’ working hours. Operators can provide an appointment at an emergency ward or acute clinic, issue medical advice, send an on-call doctor to you if necessary, or advise you to go to a hospital.

Depending on the demand at the time the call is made, it can sometimes take several minutes to get through to a doctor on the service.

The new acute button has been introduced to ensure people with serious symptoms can get through to the on-call doctor as quickly as possible.

But it should only be used if the query can’t wait, a spokesperson from the health authority said in the statement.

“With the acute button we are strengthening the on-call service for southern Danes by giving them the option of jumping the queue when they need to. That gives a sense of security that the most sick people can get through first and is a part of the ongoing modernisation of the on-call service in Region South Denmark,” elected health official Pernelle Jensen said in the statement.

The head of committee for on-call GPs in South Denmark said in comments to news wire Ritzau that the acute button should be used with caution.

Patients should only consider pressing it if they have been taken acutely ill and their condition is serious, Morten Svening Nielsen said.

“This is freedom with responsibility. You should not use the button because you’ve been coughing for 14 days or need a prescription,” he said.

“Each individual should consider if it’s fair for him or her to suddenly jump the queue. If everyone does it, the effect will obviously be diluted,” he said.

The number to contact the on-call doctor varies according to Danish region. In South Denmark it is 70 11 07 07. In other regions it is: Greater Copenhagen – 1813; Zealand – 1818; Central Jutland – 70 11 31 31; North Jutland – 70 15 03 00.

Callers are given information about the acute button when they are on hold. A similar option already exists in two other regions, Central Jutland and North Jutland.

For response to life-threatening and serious accidents and emergencies, the 112 emergency number must be used, not the on-call doctor line.

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