People in Northamptonshire are being urged to dial 999 only in ‘genuine emergencies’ because freezing conditions are putting a strain on the ambulance service.
The East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EMAS) says the icy weather has led to it receiving 5,448 more calls than during the same period last year – an eight per cent rise.
Associate Director of Operations at the service, Pete Ripley, said with New Year’s Day round the corner - traditionally the peak day for 999 call-outs – Northamptonshire folk should be wary of calling the emergency number.
He said: “Demand on our service continues to be significantly high, and this together with the challenging road conditions has made it very difficult for us to get to people quickly.
“To ensure we can continue to help those in the most need, we need the public’s support, particularly on New Year’s Day when we are preparing for even higher call levels.
“Please only dial 999 in genuine emergencies such as cardiac arrest and chest pain, unconscious or severe loss of blood.”
Mr Ripley said people can help ease demand on the service by checking on friends, relatives and neighbours, who may need a prescription.
Those feeling unwell should get early advice from their pharmacy or GP, he added, or should visit the NHS Choices website www.nhs.uk for details on available health services nearby.
“Our colleagues and volunteers are working incredibly hard and we are proud of their continued commitment to provide the best possible care during this challenging time.” Mr Ripley said.
“Many from all areas of the service working over their shift hours or coming in for extra shifts to help us give the best possible patient care.
“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 not true that arriving at A&E by ambulance will get you seen faster. Hospitals have their own assessment systems in place and patients with a non-urgent condition will wait just as long as if they had made their own way to hospital.”