A WOMAN in Newport called 999 after finding she didn’t have enough money to buy a train ticket.
This was just one of the thousands of non-urgent calls the Welsh Ambulance Service took in the last 12 months which prompted them to remind people not to call 999 unless it is a genuine emergency.
The service took 31,219 non-urgent calls in the last year, only 670 of which required an ambulance and just three of which resulted in a patient being taken to hospital.
They included a woman who dialled 999 to ask if the green part of a potato was poisonous and a caller whose daughter had drunk water from a dog’s bowl.
One woman called 999 because her boiler had broken and she had no credit to call the gas board, while one man said he needed an ambulance because he had a ring stuck on his finger.
The Trust is urging people to choose the appropriate service for their healthcare needs so that call takers and ambulance crews are not tied up unnecessarily when a call to a genuine emergency comes in.
Richard Lee, head of clinical services at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “We don’t want to deter anyone from calling 999, but we want them to think twice before they do.
“When people misuse the service it means our precious time is being taken away from someone who really does need our help. During peak periods, like the summer, every non-essential call has the potential to delay a response to a serious emergency.
“Please remember only to dial 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk.”
The thousands of non-urgent calls received via 999 last year include a Newport woman who didn’t have enough money to buy a train ticket and a Tredegar woman with a cast on her leg and wanted it taken off.
“The emergency healthcare system across Wales is facing unparalleled pressure,” said Richard Lee.
“We are asking the public to support NHS Wales’ Choose Well campaign to ensure busy emergency services are available for those who need them most urgently. If you think you need medical attention, there are a host of other options you can consider.”
For advice and treatment of most illnesses, visit your GP, or contact NHS Direct Wales on 0845 4647 if you are feeling unwell and are unsure what to do.
Go to nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk to visit the NHS Direct Wales website, and choosewellwales.org.uk for more information on the Choose Well campaign.