EMAS warning over 999 calls after record call outs

Ambulance staff urged to turn whistleblower
Ambulance staff urged to turn whistleblower

People need to think twice before dialling 999 after East Midlands Ambulance Service received a record number of calls on Saturday.

The significant peak in demand saw the service busier than on New Year’s Day, making it the busiest day on record and making it challenge for the services resources to get to people quickly.

As Christmas and New Year gets closer, demand is expected to increase. Now, more than ever, people need to use the ambulance service properly - only in an emergency, to allow us to reach those who really need our help.

Andy Swinburn, EMAS consultant paramedic said: “The number of calls has risen along with the number of ambulance responses made, however, the number of people who are being taken to hospital has not increased which tells us that many people may be using 999 inappropriately.

“We are receiving many calls from people who could have seen their GP or got same-day treatment from a pharmacy, minor injuries unit, self-care or by visiting an urgent care centre.”

On Saturday, calls included a patient with knee pain, a patient who had been suffering from abdominal pain for 10 days without seeking medical help earlier, and a patient who had woken up with a dry mouth and sore throat. Despite receiving an ambulance response, none of these patients were taken to hospital.

“People who should call our service include those reporting an incident where someone could die if they do not get fast help, this includes people in cardiac arrest, suffering a catastrophic bleed, experiencing chest pain or who are unconscious” added Andy.

“Our team of highly skilled clinicians need to be available to help people in life threatening or serious emergencies.

“Patients who really do need our help are treated as a priority, and people who are not in an emergency, will be further down the priority list as other life-threatening emergencies come in.

“It is also not true that arriving at A&E by ambulance will get you seen faster. Hospitals have their own assessment systems in place and a patient with a fractured toe will wait just as long as if they had made their own way to hospital.”