The service is already dealing with a sustained 25 per cent increase in demand compared to pre-pandemic levels and this is expected to increase by a further 30 per cent on the busiest days of the festive period.
Staff are currently dealing with an average of 3,400 calls every day. It is predicted that this could increase to 4,500 ‘999’ calls on Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day which equates to an average of one call every 20 seconds.
While there are measures in place to help cope with the rise in demand, including more ambulances and additional frontline staff, members of the public have a key role to play by ensuring they use the service responsibly.
Nick Smith, Executive Director of Operations for Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said: “The on-going pressures of COVID-19 and exceptional levels of demand, higher staff sickness levels and the wider pressures being felt across the whole of the NHS system, have all impacted on our services. We are doing all we can to ensure that our patients get the help they need.
“We always prioritise our response to the most seriously ill and injured patients. The public can help with this by knowing when to call 999 and when another NHS service is more appropriate.
“If someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk, you should call 999 immediately. If not, please consider other healthcare options.”
Genuine 999 calls include chest pain, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, severe loss of blood, severe burns and scalds, choking, fitting/convulsions, drowning, severe allergic reaction, heart attack, stroke and major trauma such as a serious road traffic accident, stabbing, shooting, fall from height or a serious head injury.
For other illnesses and injuries, consider other more appropriate healthcare services, such as:
- Visit the NHS website www.nhs.uk
- Call NHS 111 or visit www.111.nhs.uk
- Urgent treatment centre/walk-in centre/minor injuries unit
- Make your own way to your local A&E
The trust’s NHS 111 service, which is also dealing with a 25 per cent increase in calls compared to pre-pandemic levels, has increased staffing levels to support further surges in demand which are expected over the festive period.
Patients are encouraged to visit 111.nhs.uk or call 111 if their healthcare need is urgent but not an emergency.
Mr Smith also reminded the public that calling 999 doesn’t mean we’ll definitely send an ambulance. The Trust will provide the most appropriate response for your need; this may be a clinical telephone assessment or referral to another NHS service.
He added: “Our dedicated staff are doing their best to respond as quickly as possible to all 999 calls, but we acknowledge that there may be a delay at exceptionally busy times.
"We would urge you not to ring us back to ask how long the crews will be. This could delay us speaking to a caller about a seriously ill or injured patient. Only call us back if the patient’s condition worsens, they no longer need our help or if you are making your own way to hospital."
* Support your Halifax Courier by becoming a digital subscriber. You will see 70 per cent fewer ads on stories, meaning faster load times and an overall enhanced user experience. Click here to subscribe