Save 999 for real emergencies, says ambulance service

PUBLISHED: 16:48 15 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:48 06 May 2010

PEOPLE are being asked not dial 999 for the ambulance unless it s for a life-threatening or serious medical situation. This follows a high number of calls over the weekend when more than 1,950 emergency calls were received by the ambulance service in Her

PEOPLE are being asked not dial 999 for the ambulance unless it's for a life-threatening or serious medical situation.

This follows a high number of calls over the weekend when more than 1,950 emergency calls were received by the ambulance service in Herts and Beds between Friday and Sunday though many did not actually require an emergency response.

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) medical director Dr John Scott said: "We received 7,176 calls across the region during the three-day period from Friday to Sunday. This is despite recent appeals for people to consider first seeking guidance from NHS Direct or their own GP unless they have a serious injury or illness, so we are having to reiterate our message now in even stronger terms: Please do not call unless there is a serious or life-threatening emergency."

He added: "Of course people with genuine emergencies should not hesitate for a moment to call us, because that's what we're here for. However, with the numbers of calls seeming to increase all the time, we need people to think about whether they really need an ambulance before dialling 999."

In non-emergencies people are advised to contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or the local GP out-hours-service in the first instance.

Some examples of the minor ailments which the ambulance service gets called to include:

* Coughs, colds, sore throat and earache;

* Minor cuts, bruises and wounds;

* Muscle and joint injuries, strains and sprains;

* Skin complaints;

* Toothache;

* Constipation and diarrhoea.

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