We use cookies to track user visits on this website but all data collected is anonymous and is used only for the purpose of improving the site. By browsing our site you agree to our use of cookies. You will only see this message once.

Find out more
Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust Header Banner

Use 999 Service Wisely During Bank Holiday Weekend

24 August 2012

The region’s ambulance service is appealing for people to call 999 wisely during the forthcoming bank holiday weekend to avoid any unnecessary pressure on the valuable life-saving service.

Bank holiday periods are a time when Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust traditionally sees an increase in the number of 999 calls for emergency assistance and they expect this weekend will be no exception as they are preparing to be 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.

David Williams, Deputy Director of Operations at the Trust, said: “The high volume of calls we 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 of the people calling 999 for ambulance assistance quickly.

“Typically, more people will be out and about socialising which can lead to an increase in illness and injury and, as many people will be celebrating the extra day off with an alcoholic drink or two, we usually see a rise in alcohol-fuelled incidents too.” 

                                                                         David Williams  

The Trust says that it is not uncommon for ambulance staff to respond to people 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.

David continued: “We don’t want to deter people from calling 999 in a genuine medical emergency such as a cardiac arrest, breathing difficulties or stroke, 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 such as cardiac arrest, breathing difficulties or stroke.

For advice and treatment for non-emergencies and less serious conditions, members of the public should consider alternative 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.

Jumping the queue at hospital emergency departments is believed to be a motive for some 999 calls. However, people should be aware that on arrival at hospital, patients are treated according to the urgency of their medical need, regardless of how they made their way to hospital.

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 and head injury.  Please note: This is not an exhaustive list

Examples of inappropriate 999 calls: ear pain, toothache, stubbed toe, broken finger nail, sore throat and hangover.

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