999 calls rocketing

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Ambulance bosses say they are inundated with 999 calls and are appealing to people to use the emergency service wisely.

The plea comes as staff at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust are responding to volumes of incidents which are being compared to New Year’s Eve which is traditionally their busiest day of the year.

When compared to December 2011, the Trust has already responded to over 3,000 more patients this month and has seen an increase of 15 per cent in the number of people calling with a potentially life-threatening illness or injury.

David Williams, Deputy Director of Operations at the Trust, says they have extra resources available to cope with the excessive demand but warns that 999 calls for trivial incidents and minor conditions are potentially putting those with life-threatening illnesses and injuries at risk.

He said: “We urge the public only to call us when someone requires immediate medical assistance for a condition such as a heart attack or stroke and ask that people who simply need advice or treatment for minor illnesses and injuries or transport to hospital consider the other services available.“

The ambulance service prioritises 999 calls to ensure t they are able to reach the most seriously ill and injured patients first and all other calls are categorised as per the national guidelines which means a target response of between 20 minutes to an hour. Those with the most minor conditions will receive telephone advice or be redirected to a more appropriate service such as a walk-in centre or pharmacy.

Mr Williams added that they expect the increase in demand will continue over this weekend and New Year.

On New Year’s Eve the ambulance service is running various initiatives across the county to ensure people with alcohol-related illnesses and injuries don’t place too much pressure on the service and on emergency departments in Yorkshire. This includes the use of police and paramedic teams in busy town and city centres across the region.