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Use 999 Wisely Over Easter

20 April 2011

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust is appealing for people to call 999 wisely during the Easter bank holiday to avoid unnecessary pressure on the valuable life-saving service.

Last Easter the Trust experienced a significant increase in 999 calls for emergency assistance and, coupled with the warm weather which is set to continue, they anticipate that this year they will be kept just as busy.

This has prompted the service, which can be a life-line in a genuine         life-threatening emergency, to urge people with minor ailments to consider the variety of other healthcare services available to them to ensure emergency resources are available for those who need them most.

Alan Baranowski (pictured left), Assistant Director of A&E Operations at the Trust, said: “The high volume of calls we traditionally receive during the bank holiday periods puts the service under increased strain and makes it harder for us to ensure we can get to all patients quickly.

“Typically more people will be out and about socialising which can lead to more people becoming ill or injured, and as many people like to enjoy an alcohol drink during the four-day holiday, we usually see a rise in alcohol-fuelled incidents. 

“Our staff often respond to patients who have reported a serious condition only to find they have a minor illness or injury which would have been more appropriately dealt with by NHS Direct, a local pharmacist, a GP or a minor injuries unit and this could delay us getting to someone with a more serious or life-threatening condition.

“We don’t want to deter people from calling 999 in a genuine medical emergency and would like to reassure members of the public that we will have additional resources in place to manage the anticipated rise in demand during the busy period.
“All we ask is that people think carefully about whether they really need to call 999 for an emergency ambulance or whether someone else’s need could be greater.”  

Members of the public should only call 999 for an ambulance in a medical emergency when it is obvious that they or another person has a serious or life-threatening illness or injury and needs time-critical help.

For advice and treatment for non-emergencies and less serious conditions, consider options such as a visit to a local pharmacist or GP surgery, a call to NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or visit a walk-in centre or minor injuries unit.

Examples of when you should call 999 for an ambulance:

  1. chest pain,
  2. difficulty in breathing,
  3. loss of consciousness,
  4. heavy loss of blood,
  5. severe burns and scalds,
  6. choking,
  7. fitting/convulsions,
  8. drowning,
  9. severe allergic reaction and head injury. 

There is a variety of healthcare services available:

Self care - A range of common illnesses and injuries can be treated at home by combining a well-stocked medicine cabinet with plenty of rest. This is the best choice for very minor illnesses and injuries.

NHS Direct - NHS Direct provides confidential health advice and information by phone, through digital TV and online, 24 hours a day.

Pharmacist - Your local pharmacist can give you advice on illnesses and the medicines you need to treat them. Visit a pharmacist when you are suffering from a common health problem which does not require being seen by a nurse or doctor.

GP - GP surgeries provide a range of services by appointment, including medical advice, examinations, and prescriptions. In an emergency, a GP can also visit your home outside of opening hours by contacting your local surgery and following the recorded instructions.

NHS walk-in centre, urgent care centre, or minor injuries unit - You do not need an appointment and you will be seen by an experienced nurse or GP. These services give healthcare and advice and most are open from early in the morning until late at night. Visit one of these centres if you need medical treatment or advice which does not need a visit to A&E or a medical appointment.

A&E or 999 - A&E or 999 should only be used in a critical or life-threatening situation when someone is seriously ill or injured.

Produced By: Corporate Communications Department