999 appeal as ambulance service prepares for busy Bank Holiday weekend
Ambulance bosses are urging the public not to abuse the 999 system as they gear up for a busy Bank Holiday weekend.
The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is appealing to the public to use its services wisely, with demand still at levels the service normally experiences during the New Year period.
A number of factors are thought to be contributing to the rise in calls, including the warm weather and an increase in people public spending time outside as restrictions ease.
Now people are being asked to use the 111 Online service – accessed at www.111.nhs.uk – for non-emergency care.
It offers patients advice on the best option for them to get the care they need, including getting a call back from a qualified clinician, booking an appointment in A&E or providing advice on recovery.
NEAS clinical services manager Claire Jobling said: “On average, we’re seeing a 25% increase in 111 calls and a 30% increase in 999 calls every week compared to last year.
“We’re expecting another very busy Bank Holiday weekend, particularly in light of the number of events taking place across the region.
“We want people to enjoy this weekend’s events, but we need everyone to do so sensibly and look after each other so you don’t require our help.
“We are rightly prioritising those patients that are the sickest or most severely injured. Everyone who needs an ambulance will get one, but in some cases, there are some patients who could access the care they need using other options other than dialling 999.
“I would also ask that callers to 999 only ring back if the patient’s condition worsens, rather than to check what time their ambulance will arrive. Answering that call may delay us answering another where every second counts.”
The public should continue to contact 999 if they experience:
A cardiac arrest where the patient is unconscious and not breathing;
Signs of a heart attack e.g. a pain like a heavy weight in the centre of the chest;
Signs of stroke such as the face drooping on one side or weakness on one side;
Heavy bleeding that won’t stop;
Sudden and rapid swelling of the eyes, lips, throat or tongue.