The region’s ambulance service is taking part in a pilot project to try to free up help for patients who need it most.
The North East Ambulance Service trust (NEAS) is taking part in the Ambulance Response Programme, which gives call handlers more time to decide if an ambulance needs to be dispatched.
The trust says it is helping to cut down on vehicles sent out to people who do not need them – freeing up more to reach genuine emergencies and improve survival chances.
A NEAS spokesman said: “The current national requirement to rapidly dispatch a resource to calls to meet current stringent response time targets means that an ambulance is more likely to be dispatched inappropriately.
“It results in resources unnecessarily being sent to low acuity patients and also diverts ambulances from being available for the most life-threatening cases, where every second counts.
“This trial allows call handlers more time, where necessary, to assess a patient’s needs before an ambulance is dispatched.”
Under the pilot, incoming 999 calls go through a new system to help identify the most serious cases from less serious calls.
The spokesman added: “Sometimes, the current response time targets can result in an ambulance arriving on scene before the end of the triageing process when an ambulance may not have been required.”
The ambulance service says it has seen a drop in such cases of an average of 510 a week before the start of the trial to 396 a week now.