Few festive 999 calls were genuine emergencies

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Only four in 10 calls taken by Northamptonshire’s ambulance service on New Year’s Day were about life-threatening emergencies.

Data released by East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) shows on January 1, the total calls received hit 3,223. Of those, only 1,336 were for people reported to be in an immediately life-threatening situation.

Peter Ripley, EMAS director of operations said: “The festive season may be over, however we expect to continue to receive significant call numbers over the next few weeks and I urge people to use the right NHS services available to them for treatment of minor illnesses or injuries.”

In the first four hours alone of New Year’s Day, EMAS recieved 1,074 calls.

However, despite the large numbers of callers seemingly misusing the 999 number, the number of overall emergency calls was down 113 on the previous New Year’s Day.

Mr Ripley said: “I pay tribute to our staff who worked on the frontline – our skilled staff answering calls received in our Emergency Operations Centres and our clinicians out on the road providing medical treatment and care. They did a truly magnificent job, in challenging circumstances.

“They were supported by operational management teams based at hospital Emergency Departments to assist with the clinical handover of patients to hospital staff.

“We were also supported by our Community First Responders, Fire co-responders, the British Red Cross, St John Ambulance and EMICS (East Midlands Immediate Care Scheme doctors), all of whom help us to provide the very best service during busy and challenging times. I thank them for their continued dedication and support.”

From Christmas Eve through to the end of December, the busiest day for EMAS was on Saturday 29 December with 2,611 total calls being picked up. Of those 1,002 were from people reporting an immediately life-threatening condition.

Despite earlier precdictions by ambulance bosses, this figure was an increase on the number of calls received during what the trust refers to as ‘Black Friday’, the last Fri before Christmas Day, when the service received 2,384 calls, 457 more than a typical Friday.