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Christmas Message from Chief Executive Rod Barnes

22 December 2016

The Christmas period is a normal working week for the majority of our staff as we continue to provide an essential life-saving emergency service to residents across Yorkshire.

December has already been very busy for our service and other parts of the NHS. Our A&E Operations staff have been responding to everything from strokes and heart attacks to breathing difficulties and serious injuries and the NHS 111 service has provided advice to thousands of patients with common ailments such as stomach upsets, skin conditions, headaches and minor injuries. In addition, our non-emergency Patient Transport Service is ensuring patients who need vital treatments such as renal dialysis are conveyed to their appointments.

I am writing to your readers to ask them to be considerate and help to ease the pressure on our services over the festive period. This includes behaving responsibly while out celebrating, looking after friends and neighbours who may be vulnerable at this time of year and keeping themselves safe, whether at home or out and about, so that we can keep emergency ambulances for those who really need them.

Please make sure you have essential items in your medicine cabinet so that you can treat common health problems at home, ensure you have sufficient prescription medicine to last over the festive period and remember to pack your medication if you’re going away to stay with friends or relatives. Please take extra care when you out on the roads and drink responsibly when celebrating.

We ask that you only call 999 for an ambulance in an emergency when it is clear that you or another person has a serious or life-threatening illness or injury and needs time-critical medical assistance. We will always respond to anyone needing vital treatment, but we often find that our staff are called out to deal with patients whose needs are less urgent. This means that emergency ambulances can be tied up unnecessarily to the detriment of patients with potentially very serious conditions.

Anyone with a minor illness or injury should use the appropriate services for their needs such as their local pharmacist or GP, attending a walk-in-centre or minor injuries unit or calling NHS 111.
I’m pleased to say that the vast majority of people do use our emergency service appropriately. However, some do need to be reminded about the importance of making the right choice about their healthcare needs and the NHS Choices website provides useful information and advice on many common conditions, treatments and local services – www.nhs.uk

We have a dedicated ‘Choose Well’ page on our website which contains details of local walk-in centres and minor injuries units across Yorkshire and the Humber. You can find the page here http://www.yas.nhs.uk/Calling999/Choose_Well.html or by clicking on the Choose Well link on our homepage at www.yas.nhs.uk

Finally, I would like to pass on enormous thanks to our hard-working staff and volunteers who care for patients 365 days a year, particularly those who are working over the festive period for their continued dedication, kindness and professionalism during what will be our busiest period.  I know how much this is appreciated by our patients and their families.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you and your readers a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.

Yours sincerely

Rod Barnes
Chief Executive
Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust

Notes to Editor 
1. 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

2. There are 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 111 - NHS 111 provides confidential health advice and information by phone, 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.

3. Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust covers almost 6,000 square miles of varied terrain from isolated moors and dales to urban areas, coastline and inner cities and provides 24-hour emergency and healthcare services to a population of more than five million people. The organisation receives an average of 2,330 emergency and urgent calls per day and employs over 5,000 staff.

The Patient Transport Service made over one million journeys in 2015-16 transporting patients to and from hospital and treatment centre appointments. The Trust’s NHS 111 service helped 1.5 million patients across Yorkshire and the Humber, Bassetlaw, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire during 2015-16.

For more information visit http://www.yas.nhs.uk/Calling999/Choose_Well.html


Produced By: Corporate Communications Department