As the region’s ambulance service prepares for a busy August bank holiday weekend, people whose call is not an emergency are asked to consider other healthcare options rather than dialling 999.
Traditionally, there is a sharp rise in demand for the 999 service over bank holidays with an increased number of alcohol-related calls adding extra pressure.
David Williams, deputy director of operations at the trust, said: “The high volume of calls we receive during the bank holiday periods puts the service under increased strain and makes it more difficult for us to ensure we can get to all of the people calling 999 for ambulance assistance quickly.
“Typically, more people will be out and about socialising with family and friends which can lead to an increase in illness and injury and, as many people will be celebrating the extra day off with alcoholic drinks, we usually see a rise in alcohol-fuelled incidents too. We want people to enjoy themselves but ask that they do it sensibly and look after each other.
“We have plans in place to help manage the impact of the additional demand this weekend will bring. However, people with minor illnesses and injuries should consider the variety of other NHS healthcare services available to them for advice and treatment for non-emergencies and less serious conditions.”
For many ailments a local pharmacist can provide advice on illnesses and the medicines you need to treat them at home. People can also get help at an NHS walk-in centre or minor injuries unit which are usually open early morning until late at night, or they can ring NHS 111, the new urgent care helpline which is available 24 hours a day.
In addition, patients on regular medication should remember to check that they have sufficient supplies to last them over the bank holiday period and ensure they have ordered any repeat prescriptions they need from their GP before the weekend.
Local emergency departments or 999 should only be used in a critical or life-threatening situation when someone is seriously ill or injured, such as chest pain, difficulty in breathing, unconsciousness, severe loss of blood, severe burns or scalds, choking, fitting or concussion, drowning and severe allergic reactions.