A spokesperson for The South Essex NHS Succeeding Partnership has confirmed that a three-month trial to replace the 999 telephone number with an online reporting service will begin on 1st May 2017. 

According to the scheme’s creator Dr Nigel Frenulum, the trial will automatically block telephone access to 999 for people in the South of the county, and those in need of an ambulance, the police or the fire service will be able to use a specially designed web page or app for smartphones.

He added: ‘The online reporting tool asks a series of questions to determine the type of emergency – this eliminates the need for an operator to ask where calls need to be directed.’

‘For example, people who answer ‘Is it really hot?’ with the word ‘YES’ will be directed to the fire service response page, unless it detects that they are referring to their own child in a third-person non-gender specific manner as is common in certain areas of Southend.’

‘In this instance, the user would be directed to the ambulance homepage, or possibly social services.’

‘The software has been developed with a revolutionary algorithm to get straight to the key facts. For example, a stroke team will be alerted if a user’s typing is slurred or if the smartphone’s built-in gyroscope detects that the handset keeps slipping.’

‘Although this trial will add time onto the time that it takes to deal with every emergency, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Evidence has proved that heart attacks are now 15% lazier than in 2015.’

‘A premium rate phone number will be available for people who need assistance with the new system.’

This latest e-initiative may not be welcomed by everyone in the area.

A trial of giving out test results by predictive text message in 2015 was scrapped after a 65-year-old woman from Rochford was told that she had ‘Stage 3 lung council.’