Ambulance service warns public after rise in non-emergency 999 calls

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‘Emergency’ calls to the ambulance service over Christmas included people seeking advice over constipation, hiccups and swallowed toothpaste.

North West Ambulance Service has now urged the public to only call in the case of real emergencies.

The trust answered 4,111 emergency calls and attended 3,178 incidents on Christmas Day alone and this figure increased on subsequent days.

Director of operations, Ged Blezard, said: “This Christmas has been one of our busiest ever and there are no indications that activity is going to reduce as we head towards New Year’s Eve – traditionally always our busiest day.

“Unfortunately, there have been some patients who have been waiting longer than we would like but I want to assure the public that we are doing the very best we can to reach people as quickly as possible, but if your condition is not urgent, you will wait some time for a response or be given advice on other healthcare options.

“Ambulances must be kept free for those in urgent or life-threatening conditions and should not be used as a quick route into hospital.

“Our staff in the call centres and out on the roads are working incredibly hard at the moment and doing the best they can for patients but we also need the public’s help in making the right call.”

As a result of many of the calls received, ambulances were not despatched and callers were advised on seeking help elsewhere.