Pressured ambulance service’s Christmas plea

An air ambulance was called to the man in Horsted Keynes yesterday morning (January 8)

An air ambulance was called to the man in Horsted Keynes yesterday morning (January 8)

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The ambulance service is calling for people to think before dialling 999 in a bid to reduce pressure on paramedics during the Christmas period.

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust is facing significant demand currently which is affecting its ability to respond quickly to 999 emergencies.

The trust, which has seen a 10 per cent increase in demand compared to last year, is calling on the public to think careful about whether they need to call for an ambulance or whether they can seek alternative assistance from other healthcare providers.

The trust’s on call Strategic Incident Commander, Richard Webber said: “We are currently receiving a high volume of emergency 999 calls which we are struggling to reach in a timely manner.

“This means that for certain emergencies, some patients can expect to wait longer for an ambulance as we focus our efforts on responding to calls which are deemed life-threatening.

“The public can help us by avoid calling us for non-life-threatening emergencies and seek alternative treatment from other healthcare providers or if you do require hospital treatment look to make your own way there.”

People should only dial 999 in the event of a serious emergency and remember the other options available, such as calling NHS 111, which is run in partnership with Care UK.

If you think a patient is suffering from one of the following you must dial 999 for an ambulance: a heart attack (e.g. chest pain for more than 15 minutes); sudden unexplained shortness of breath; heavy bleeding; unconsciousness, even if the patient has regained consciousness and traumatic back, spinal or neck pain.

People should also call for an ambulance if they think the patient’s illness or injury is life-threatening; they think the illness or injury may become worse, or even life-threatening on the way to the hospital; that moving the patient without skilled people could cause further injury or the patient needs the skills or equipment of the ambulance service and its staff.

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