Ambulance chiefs issue Easter 999 warning

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North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust is appealing for people to call 999 wisely over the Easter bank holiday to avoid unnecessary pressure on the 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 this year will be just as busy.

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

Derek Cartwright, of Paramedic Emergency Service, 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, too.

“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, GP or 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 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 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 a visit to a pharmacist or GP surgery, a call to NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or visit a walk-in centre or minor injuries unit.