Patients across Derbyshire are being asked to think twice before calling 999 this winter as ambulance services experience increasing demand.
Paramedics from the East Midlands Ambulance Service say they have been receiving a record number of calls over the festive period, with more than 3,000 on Saturday alone.
This figure meant that the day was the fifth busiest on record and the service say the increasing demand on their resources has been a ‘real challenge’.
Andy Swinburn, EMAS Consultant Paramedic, said while the number of calls and ambulance responses are increasing, the amount of people being taken to hospital is not.
He added: “Many people may be using 999 inappropriately. We are receiving many calls from people who could have seen their GP or got same-day treatment from a pharmacy, minor injuries unit, self-care or by visiting an urgent care centre.”
On Saturday calls to the ambulance service included a patient with knee pain, a patient who had been suffering from abdominal pain for 10 days without seeking medical help earlier, and a patient who had woken up with a dry mouth and sore throat. Despite receiving an ambulance response, none of these patients were taken to hospital.
“People who should call our service include those reporting an incident where someone could die if they do not get fast help, this includes people in cardiac arrest, suffering a catastrophic bleed, experiencing chest pain or who are unconscious” added Andy.
“Our team of highly skilled clinicians need to be available to help people in life threatening or serious emergencies.
“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 also not true that arriving at A&E by ambulance will get you seen faster. Hospitals have their own assessment systems in place and a patient with a fractured toe will wait just as long as if they had made their own way to hospital.”
Residents are being encouraged to get early advice from their local pharmacy or GP should they start to feel unwell.
NHS Choices provides details of local services via www.nhs.uk/service-search.