'Think again before dialling 999'

PEOPLE who feel they may need medical assistance are being asked to think again before dialling 999.Ambulance crews across Essex have been busier than usual during recent weeks and members of the public have been urged to help alleviate the pressure on the service by avoiding unnecessary 999 calls.

By Roddy Ashworth

PEOPLE who feel they may need medical assistance are being asked to think again before dialling 999.

Ambulance crews across Essex have been busier than usual during recent weeks and members of the public have been urged to help alleviate the pressure on the service by avoiding unnecessary 999 calls.

Essex Ambulance Trust's call numbers were up 10.7% on last year for the period February 1-14. This year, there were 9,300 calls for this period, compared to 8,404 this year.


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Anthony Marsh, Essex Ambulance chief executive, said: “We have been doing our very best to continue to deliver great service to the people of Essex during this extremely busy time.

“We are putting extra resources out on the roads, and staff have been working extremely hard to ensure we can respond quickly to every call.

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“We would, however, ask that the people of Essex in turn help us by considering whether calling for an ambulance is the most appropriate way of getting medical care.

“Obviously in a serious emergency, you should never hesitate to call 999. But in other cases, there are a number of other options that may result in more appropriate care for the patient while reducing the strain on the ambulance service.”

These options include:

n keeping appropriate cold, flu and minor ailment remedies at home

n asking for advice at a pharmacist

n calling NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or online at www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

n making an appointment with your GP

Mr Marsh said: “We do see a number of calls to the service that could be dealt with using one of these other options, and it would be very helpful if people would take a moment to consider the most effective one to choose.

“Whenever we send emergency resources to deal with a call that could have been dealt with in another way, that means we have fewer ambulances available to respond to life-threatening emergencies.”

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