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Think Before You Call. Is it an Emergency?

28 December 2017

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) is appealing for people to ‘think before you call’ as the final preparations are made for what is traditionally the busiest night of the year - New Year’s Eve.  

Many calls are received from patients who do not need to go to hospital.  999 calls for minor illnesses and injuries can potentially put those with life-threatening illnesses and injuries at greater risk by using valuable resources inappropriately.

The appeal comes as the ambulance trust thanks its staff after a very busy Christmas when over 4,100 emergency incidents were responded to on 25 and 26 December alone. Over the two days there were 781 life-threatening emergencies, an increase of around 200 compared to last year.

Stephen Segasby, Deputy Director of Operations at YAS, said: “Our staff have done an incredible job over the busy Christmas period looking after thousands of patients, many of whom were very poorly and needed our help as quickly as possible.

“But when people use our emergency medical service inappropriately for minor injuries and illnesses and less serious calls, this ties up our resources and means we can’t get to those who really need us as quickly as we would like to.

“We would appeal to everyone to think before you call and only dial 999 when someone is in need of time-critical life-saving help.”

To help you understand when you should call us or use an alternative healthcare provider, please consider the following:

Dial 999 immediately for medical emergencies such as (this list is not exhaustive):
• Chest pain
• Severe breathing difficulty
• Loss of consciousness
• Heavy blood loss
• Choking
• Fitting/convulsions
• Drowning
• Severe allergic reaction

For other illnesses and injuries, consider other more appropriate healthcare services such as:
• Self-care
• Pharmacist
• GP
• NHS 111
• Urgent care or walk-in centre
• Minor injuries unit
• Visit the NHS Choices website
• Make your own way to your local A&E

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are traditionally our busiest time of the year when we see an increase in alcohol-related calls.

Stephen said: “We don’t want to spoil anyone’s celebrations but we are asking party-goers on New Year’s Eve to think about how much alcohol they are consuming and stay safe to ensure they don’t put their own health or that of others in jeopardy. 

“People can help themselves to have an enjoyable night and stay well by being aware of how much they’re drinking, alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks or water, eating before they go out, planning ahead for transport home and looking after each other.

“Most of all please remember that the 999 number should only be used in serious medical emergencies and people should use the service responsibly so that ambulances are available for those who need them most.”

Unfortunately, New Year’s Eve is also a time when staff find themselves on the receiving end of verbal and physical abuse.

Stephen added: “This behaviour is completely unacceptable and we have a zero-tolerance approach so will prosecute anyone who is offensive towards our staff who are there to help people in need.”


Notes to Editor:
1. Last year, Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust responded to 1,150 incidents over the 12-hour period from 18.00 on 31 December 2016 to 06.00 on 1 January 2017. This was fairly evenly split between the two days; 52% (592) between 18.00 and midnight and 48% (598) between midnight and 06.00. The busiest hour was 01.00 to 02.00 (127 responses) with there being approximately 100 responses every hour up to 04.00. Between 01.00 and 05.00, there were 58 calls to assault incidents.

2. There is a range of healthcare services available:

  • Self-care - A range of common illnesses and injuries can be treated at home by combining a well-stocked medicine cabinet with plenty of rest. This is the best choice for very minor illnesses and injuries.
  • Pharmacist - Your local pharmacist can give you advice on illnesses and the medicines you need to treat them. Visit a pharmacist when you are suffering from a common health problem which does not require being seen by a nurse or doctor. 
  • GP - GP surgeries provide a range of services by appointment, including medical advice, examinations, and prescriptions. In an emergency, a GP can also visit your home outside of opening hours by contacting your local surgery and following the recorded instructions.
  • NHS walk-in centre, urgent care centre, or minor injuries unit - You do not need an appointment and you will be seen by an experienced nurse or GP. These services give healthcare and advice and most are open from early in the morning until late at night. Visit one of these centres if you need medical treatment or advice which does not need a visit to A&E or a medical appointment.
  • NHS 111 - NHS 111 provides confidential health advice and information, 24 hours a day. 
  • A&E or 999 - A&E or 999 should only be used in a critical or life-threatening situation when someone is seriously ill or injured.

3. Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust covers almost 6,000 square miles of varied terrain from isolated moors and dales to urban areas, coastline and inner cities and provides 24-hour emergency and healthcare services to a population of more than five million people. The organisation receives an average of 2,330 emergency and routine calls per day and employs over 5,000 staff.

4. The Patient Transport Service made over one million journeys in 2016-17 transporting patients to and from hospital and treatment centre appointments. The Trust’s NHS 111 service helped 1.5 million patients across Yorkshire and the Humber, Bassetlaw, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire during 2016-17.

Issued by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service Press Office


Produced By: Corporate Communications Department