Ambulance chiefs warn of busy Easter

AMBULANCE chiefs are today urging the public to consider using alternative ways to get treatment and avoid putting the 999 service under strain over the coming Easter weekend.

Rebecca Lefort

AMBULANCE chiefs are today urging the public to consider using alternative ways to get treatment and avoid putting the 999 service under strain over the coming Easter weekend.

The East of England Ambulance Service sent out the drastic plea to people ahead of one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year.

The appeal comes after the ambulance service struggled to meet targets for reaching dying people in Suffolk quickly enough earlier this year.

Whistle-blowing paramedics spoke out about their concerns that lives could be put at risk because of the failure to get to 75% of life-threatening calls within eight minutes.

To combat the problems of the growing number of calls it received the ambulance service has reiterated that people should use other health services when possible, and should ensure that they are stocked up on their medication to avoid any complications and the chances of needing to call 999.

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Neil Storey, interim associate director of A&E services for the ambulance service, said: "Traditionally we see a higher number of 999 calls over the four-day bank holiday weekend which puts the ambulance service under additional pressure.

“We want people to ensure they're being safe so that they don't require treatment in the first place, but should they find themselves in a situation where they need medical attention, they should consider whether it's an emergency or not.

“We would never wish to discourage people who have a genuine emergency from dialling 999 and we would like to reassure the public that we have the resources in place to manage the extra demand during this holiday period.”

The trust said people should consider calling NHS Direct on 0845 4647 if they have a minor ailment, such as coughs, colds, sore throat, earache, minor cuts, bruises and wounds, skin complaints or toothache.