'Save ambulances for real emergencies'

SAVE ambulances for the real emergencies this winter - that was the message from health chiefs frustrated by another huge rise in people dialling 999 with trivial problems.

SAVE ambulances for the real emergencies this winter - that was the message from health chiefs frustrated by another huge rise in people dialling 999 with trivial problems.

Judi Ingram, chief operating officer for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, said: “We are seeing more and more 999 calls coming in for conditions which are not emergencies and for which treatment is readily available elsewhere in the NHS."We don't for one moment want to put off people with genuine emergencies from calling us, but with calls seemingly on a never-ending upward curve we need people to think carefully about whether they really need an ambulance before making the call.

“This is particularly relevant over the winter, when the number of calls peaks during the type of cold weather currently being forecast, and calls will be triaged and patients managed at home or given advice about self treatment or other NHS services where appropriate.

Dr Nick Morton, assistant medical director for the ambulance service, urged those with minor illnesses and injuries to call NHS Direct for advice rather than visiting A&E or calling an ambulance.


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He assed: “The GP out-of-hours service is also available when your local GP surgery is closed, at night and 24/7 on weekends and bank holidays.

“Call them on your GP surgery number or ring NHS Direct on 0845 4647.”

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Dr Morton also advised people to think ahead by ordering repeat prescriptions in good time and buying over the counter remedies for things like colds, coughs, sore throat, hangovers, headaches and indigestion.

He said: “The emergency ambulance service and hospital A&E departments are there to deal with urgent medical emergencies and life-threatening problems and we need to keep those services available for the people who really need them.”

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