Toothache 999 call among nuisance dialers who hampered ambulance crews on New Year’s Eve

2016 got off to a busy start for the North East Ambulance Service.
2016 got off to a busy start for the North East Ambulance Service.

Thoughtless revellers added to the heavy workload of ambulance crews over the busy festive period.

 Despite a plea by North East Ambulance Service(NEAS) bosses for people only to dial 999 in an emergency, one caller dialled the emergency number because they had toothache.

 Calls like that added to a hectic New Year for the ambulance service as they 
received more than 1,000 calls on New Year’s Eve alone.

The service took more than 1,350 calls - and attended 620 incidents – between 6pm on New Year’s Eve and 6am on New Year’s Day.

Despite numerous appeals to the public to use the service wisely, 999 operators continued to be blighted by inappropriate calls from New Year revellers.

The calls the service received included someone calling 999 and asking for an ambulance for their toothache.

Another call was from a man who had been pushed over and was worried about his teeth, having hit them on the curb.

The ambulance service said the majority of calls were from drunken people and those who should have gone to an NHS walk-in centre instead of calling an ambulance.

Last month, the NEAS raised its operational status to “severe pressure” under the framework designed to protect core services for the most vulnerable patients in the region.

“Severe pressure” means that, while it attempts to operate a normal service, the trust’s response standard to potentially life-threatening calls has deteriorated.

NEAS was the second to last ambulance service in England to raise its level as a consequence of it response time standards to potentially life-threatening calls being 61% within eight minutes over seven days.

The national standard is to respond to 75% of life-threatening incidents in eight minutes.

Lynn Pyburn, assistant contact centre manager, said: “New Year is traditionally the busiest night of the year for the ambulance service.
 “Thank you to our extremely dedicated staff who have worked tirelessly throughout Christmas and New Year, under challenging circumstances at times.

“They are very much appreciated.

“As we enter into 2016, I would like to remind members of the public to use our services wisely.

“Calling 999 for trivial incidents and minor conditions can potentially put those with life-threatening illnesses and injuries at risk by diverting ambulances elsewhere.

“Please think before you pick up the phone. Do you really need an ambulance?”
 “People who require treatment or advice for a minor illness or injury should consider other more appropriate healthcare services available to them such as self-care, pharmacists, GP surgeries, urgent care centres or NHS 111.

Only call 999 when someone is in need of time-critical life-saving help.

For more information about NHS services available near you, visit NHS Choices at