October 13, 2023 | Terry Smith

How do falls contribute to NHS winter pressures?

With winter fast approaching, it’s important to understand how falls in the community contribute to winter pressures faced by the NHS, especially when they aren’t effectively managed in a way that avoids emergency services. 

In this article, we’ll look at how falls affect ambulance services, hospitals, and emergency services, and look at what can be done to reduce the impact that falls have on system pressure this winter. 

ambulance in snow

How do falls impact ambulance services?

Falls are a leading reason for people to call for an ambulance, accounting for 8–10 per cent of all 999 calls1. The reality is, many of these falls are minor or no-injury falls, and the ambulance service is simply attending to assist the fallen person off the floor. 

Having to respond to minor and no-injury falls worsens the ambulance service’s response times to Category 1 and 2 calls, or life-threatening incidents. This is especially critical during the Winter months when ambulance services are already stretched due to stretched capacity in hospitals and emergency departments. 

When should an ambulance be called after a fall?

If the fallen person has suffered a major injury such as a hip fracture, stroke, heart attack, or severe bleeding, to name a few, the ambulance service should be called immediately, due to the life-threatening nature of these incidents. 

Assessment tools such as HelpFall and ISTUMBLE will guide you on when you should call an ambulance, and when you shouldn’t call an ambulance. 

Related article: How do you know if a fallen person is safe to lift from the floor?


What about the impact on hospitals and emergency departments?

As well as affecting the ambulance service and its ability to respond to emergencies, falls in the community have a significant impact on hospitals and emergency departments. 

Every time an ambulance is called to attend a fall in the community, there is a high possibility of the fallen person being transferred to an emergency department and subsequently admitted. If the faller has suffered serious injuries such as pneumonia or kidney failure, they are likely to need an extended hospital stay and specialist treatment before being discharged.  This is especially likely if the faller has been waiting on the floor for an extended period of time. 

It goes without saying that if falls in the community aren’t effectively managed, they can have a huge impact on the pressure within hospitals and emergency departments.


What can be done to reduce the impact falls have on winter pressures?

To reduce the impact that falls have on winter pressures, all minor and non-injury falls in the community should be responded to by the community or by community-based response services.

By keeping the burden of minor and non-injury off ambulance services, we are enabling the ambulance service to respond to higher priority calls, faster, and freeing up capacity in hospitals and emergency departments, reducing pressure faced by the NHS during winter. 

To find out more about the Felgains Falls Solution, take a look at this page




[1] http://aace.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/ASN-factsheet-June-2010.pdf



Related articles

How Do ICBs Implement HelpFall And The Raizer Lifting Chairs?

What are NHS winter pressures?

Reducing Ambulance response times | 3 solutions to the current crisis (with examples)



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Terry Smith

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