Disastrous start for new emergency phone line

Residents must now call 1813 before heading to A&E, while 112 is reserved for life-threatening emergencies

Ill and injured residents were unable to reach healthcare professionals using a new emergency phone number, 1813, that was launched over the New Year by Copenhagen’s health authority, Region Hovedstaden.

Copenhagen residents must now call 1813 before heading to A&E or if they fall ill outside of their doctor’s opening hours.

But despite assurances that the new emergency line would be highly staffed when it went online at midnight on January 1, many were unable to even get a place in the queue and were asked to call again later.

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Bad timing
“It’s frustrating that people were unable to get through immediately,” Region Hovedstaden group managing director Svend Hartling told DR Nyheder. 

“We are going to immediately examine how we can expand our technical capacity. We have already brought in more nurses because that was our greatest limitation,” Hartling said, adding that it was ambitious to launch the line during the traditionally busy New Year celebrations.

“We could have predicted that, yes, but we didn’t have the benefit of hindsight, as we do now,” he said.

Residents are not supposed to be kept waiting for more than three minutes after calling 1813 but Hartling said the line was overwhelmed with around 340 calls an hour over the New Year – the line should now be working as anticipated.

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Lifting pressure from hospitals
The new phone line is supposed to limit the pressure on hospitals by both reducing the number of unnecessary visits by ill or injured residents, as well as the amount of time they spend waiting in the hospital to be seen.

Instead of going straight to an A&E, residents must now call 1813 to speak to a doctor or nurse who will assess the resident’s illness or injury.

If it is judged to be severe enough, they are directed to the A&E with the shortest waiting time and advised on how long they should expect to wait to be treated.

Residents facing life-threatening emergencies should still dial 112.