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NHS Pathways

NHS Pathways and the Directory of Service is a clinical tool used for assessing, triaging and directing contact from the public to urgent and emergency care services such as 999, GP out-of-hours and NHS 111.

It enables patients to be triaged effectively and ensures that they are directed to the most appropriate service available at the time of contact.

Key facts about NHS Pathways

NHS Pathways is reliable:

  • NHS Pathways handles more than 14 million calls made to the NHS per year

  • it can be used in any urgent and emergency care setting


NHS Pathways is safe for patients:

  • every call handler undergoes extensive training by clinicians, educational and IT specialists to ensure they use the system safely and effectively to give the best possible care to patients

  • every question asked and every piece of care advice given is linked to at least three pieces of the most up to date clinical evidence

  • there are over 800 symptom pathways within the clinical assessment tool

  • it is under constant review and direction by the National Clinical Governance Group, which is made up of NHS clinicians with extensive experience in the urgent and emergency care services


NHS Pathways and the Directory of Services create efficiency throughout the NHS:

  • up to 15% of 999 calls are now closed without an ambulance being sent - before the introduction of NHS Pathways this was just 1%

  • it provides information on availability in acute and specialist bed settings at a local, regional and national level to support capacity management and emergency response

  • it provides commissioners real time data to enable informed commissioning of services


Find out more how NHS Pathways benefits ambulance services

Find out more how NHS Pathways benefits commissioners


Directory of Services

The Directory of Services (DOS) is a central directory that is integrated with NHS Pathways and is automatically accessed if the patient does not require an ambulance or by any attending clinician in the urgent and emergency care services.

The DOS supports clinicians, call handlers, commissioners and patients by:

  • providing real time information about available services and clinicians across all care settings that are available to support a patient as close to a patient's home as possible

  • the interoperability options of the system means a patients only need to describe their symptoms once, enabling them to be directed to the correct available service for their symptoms without repeat triage

  • providing information about the most appropriate and cost effective care for a patient

  • reducing the burden on urgent and emergency and secondary care settings by reducing unnecessary ambulance call outs and hospital referral

  • having the data on the demand and supply of health care skills it collects easily analysed and reported with the integrated Intelligent Data Tool

Find out more about the Directory of Services

Find out more about the Intelligent Data Tool


Find out more about NHS Pathways and its integrated programmes

Best Practice Toolkit

Mobile Directory

Reception Point

Training for NHS Pathways

Myth buster

Benefits of NHS Pathways

Frequently asked questions

Subscribe to the NHS Pathways bulletin

Have a question? Call us on 0300 303 5678 or contact

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