Health chiefs urge 999 caution this Christmas

Health bosses have launched a campaign urging people to only dial 999 in serious emergencies as demand on the ambulance service increases this winter.

The Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust’s (YAS) Choose Well campaign aims to help people make the right choice about their healthcare needs and where to seek medical advice.

Service chiefs have warned that patients who dial 999 with less urgent needs could be diverting emergency ambulances away from people who need vital medical treatment.

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Dr David Macklin, YAS executive director of operations, said: “The winter months are always challenging for us, particularly in December when the weather conditions can be difficult and many people are rushing about making their Christmas preparations.

“We will always respond to patients needing time-critical medical assistance, but it’s fair to say that on numerous occasions our staff are caught up dealing with patients whose needs are less urgent.

“This means that emergency ambulances can be diverted away from patients with potentially very serious conditions and who need vital treatment.”

A dedicated page has been created as part of the campaign which features details of walk-in centres and minor injuries units across the region.

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People suffering from minor illnesses are being advised to visit local pharmacists, GPs, walk-in centres or call the NHS 111 service this Christmas.

Dr Macklin said demand for the 999 service has increased every year and is expected to remain high over the next few weeks.

Examples of when people should call for an ambulance include chest pain, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness and choking.

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