Emergency medical hotline may be short of doctors for Christmas and New Year’s Eve

1813 under fire for not having holiday schedule set

Just a few days before Christmas Eve it is still unclear who will be handling calls at the Copenhagen administrative region’s, Region Hovedstaden, emergency medical hotline 1813.

If any of the 1.8 million residents of the Region Hovedstaden needs urgent medical attention outside regular GP hours, they can call the emergency hotline on 1813. The hotline is staffed by doctors and nurses whose job it is to offer the correct help and assistance.

“A desperate situation”
A temporary agency –  vikarlæger.dk – said that 1813 is still looking for doctors to cover the watch on both Christmas and New Year’s Eve this year.

“They must be in a desperate situation,” professor of general medicine at the University of Copenhagen, Lars Bjerrum, told DR Nyheder. “This should have been resolved a long time ago.”

Kent Kristensen, a health care lecturer at the University of Southern Denmark, agreed.

“The region has a responsibility to provide a plan to cover the watch, even on major holidays,” he said. “It should not come as a surprise that Christmas Eve falls on December 24.”

A fatal mistake
It is not the first time that the service has come under fire for staffing issues and mistakes.

On January 1 of this year, 17-year-old Hans Petersen died of contagious meningitis following an error committed by a midwife covering the phones last New Year’s Eve. The boy called 1813 with clear symptoms of contagious meningitis, but the service did not send a medical emergency ambulance.

Hotline says it’s prepared
The emergency hotline functions under the auspices of the Region Hovedstaden’s Præhospitale Virksomhed. Director Freddy Lippert said in a written statement that 1813 is ready for the holidays.

READ MORE: Emergency hotline 1813 understaffed, experts charge

“We are preparing ourselves as best as we can to handle the crush of the upcoming holidays and weekends,” said Lippert. “We expect, as in previous years, to have the proper amount of doctors in place for Christmas and New Year’s.”

Lippert said that people can call the hotline with confidence.

“We only use medical professionals who already have experience from emergency and telephone consultations.”