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Plea for Appropriate Use of 999 as High Demand Continues

28 December 2012

Ambulance bosses are again appealing for people in the region to use the emergency service wisely as they continue to receive record numbers of 999 calls from people across the region.  

The plea comes as on most days staff at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust are responding to volumes of incidents which are being compared to New Year’s Eve which is traditionally their busiest day of the year.

When compared to December 2011, the Trust has already responded to over 3,000 more patients this month and has seen an increase of 15% in the number of people calling with a potentially life-threatening illness or injury.

David Williams (pictured left), Deputy Director of Operations at the Trust, says they have extra resources available to cope with the excessive demand but warns that 999 calls for trivial incidents and minor conditions are potentially putting those with life-threatening illnesses and injuries at risk.

He said: “We continue to urge members of the public only to call us when someone requires immediate medical assistance for a condition such as a heart attack or stroke and ask that people who simply need advice or treatment for minor illnesses and injuries or transport to hospital consider the other services available.

“The 999 service should only be used for serious medical emergencies and to ensure that our valuable resources can reach those most in need quickly, we need members of the public to play their part and use the service responsibly.” 

The ambulance service prioritises 999 calls to ensure that they are able to reach the most seriously ill and injured patients first and all other calls are categorised as per the national guidelines which means a target response of between 20 minutes to an hour. Those with the most minor conditions will receive telephone advice or be redirected to a more appropriate service such as a walk-in centre or pharmacy.

Mr Williams added that they expect the increase in demand will continue over this weekend and New Year and is asking those who are out and about on New Year’s Eve think before each drink and stay safe to ensure they don’t put their own health or that of others at risk and enjoy their festive celebrations safely and sensibly.

He said: “People can help themselves have an enjoyable night and stay well. And a party is no fun when it ends with a call to the ambulance service and stay in A&E. All it requires to have a good night is to be conscious of how much you’re drinking, plan ahead for transport home and look after yourself and your friends.”

“Most of all remember that the 999 number should only be used in serious medical emergencies people should use the service responsibly to help ensure that our valuable resources are available for those who need them most.”

People who require treatment or advice for a minor condition should consider the variety of other healthcare services available to them and only to call 999 when someone is in need of time-critical help. 

On New Year’s Eve the ambulance service is running various initiatives across the county to ensure people with alcohol-related illnesses and injuries don’t place too much pressure on the service and on emergency departments in Yorkshire. This includes the use of police and paramedic teams in busy town and city centres across the region. 

Produced By: Corporate Communications Department