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Is your 999 call really necessary?

Inappropriate calls to the ambulance service are a big problem and can be potentially life-threatening to those who genuinely need help. Whilst we will always respond to genuine emergencies, ambulance crews are often delayed by having to attend to callers with non-urgent conditions. 

Some 999 calls are made because people wrongly believe if they travel to an emergency department at hospital in an ambulance they will jump the queue and take priority over people who have travelled to hospital themselves. Some calls are made simply because people don’t know what other options are available to them.

Emergency ambulances are for people who are very ill and need time critical help due to a life-threatening condition. 

If you have genuine concerns then err on the side of caution and call us. You may be undecided whether to dial 999 or seek other help.

Examples of when you should call 999 for an ambulance:

  • chest pain
  • difficulty in breathing 
  • loss of consciousness 
  • heavy loss of blood 
  • severe burns and scalds 
  • choking 
  • fitting/convulsions 
  • drowning 
  • severe allergic reaction
  • head injury. 

We ask than when you are unsure, other options are considered before calling 999 for an ambulance.

For simple medical advice there is a range of other services that might be more appropriate, for example a visit to the local pharmacy, GP or Walk-in Centre, or call NHS 111.