Trivial 999 calls put pressure on ambulances
9:38pm Thursday 19th December 2013 in News
A PATIENT who dialled 999 for an ambulance because his 'heart was on fire' after eating a chilli, is among examples of trivial emergency calls released by the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust.
Concerns with a hangover, boils, inability to sleep, constipation, earache, toothache, and feelings of nervousness have also been given as reasons for calling an ambulance by patients this year.
They are among a 22 per cent increase in what the ambulance service categorises as the least serious calls it receives so far this month, compared to December last year.
Minor injuries like cuts and scratches also figure prominently, but all such calls put pressure on an already busy service and by extension an NHS that must deal with increased demand during the winter.
“While some of these calls seem trivial at first glance, inappropriate use of emergency ambulance services can deny critical treatment to life-threatened patients in the community," said health minister Mark Drakeford.
“Our emergency ambulance services deal with a huge volume of calls every day, which naturally increase as vulnerable and elderly people feel the effects of the colder weather. So when they have to take calls from people who should be looking to other avenues for treatment, such as pharmacists, and self-care in some cases, it makes it so much more difficult.”
Dr Grant Robinson the Welsh Government’s clinical lead for unscheduled care, said calling 999 should not be viewed as the first option, "just as A&E departments are not the only place people should seek treatment.”
The Choose Well campaign - www.choosewellwales.org.uk - is designed to help Welsh patients choose the best place to get treatment if they fall ill or are injured. Patients unsure of the best service for their needs can also call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
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