Think before dialling 999 warns NHS

PUBLISHED: 18:03 10 December 2008 | UPDATED: 11:50 17 June 2010

SOUTH Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust has issued a pre-Christmas appeal to the public to think twice before dialling 999. The service is always busy in the run up to the festive break but already this year calls are up 17 percent when compared with th

SOUTH Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust has issued a pre-Christmas appeal to the public to think twice before dialling 999.

The service is always busy in the run up to the festive break but already this year calls are up 17 percent when compared with the same period last year.

The vast majority of people dial 999 because there is a genuine medical emergency but a small number call even if they are only mildly ill - with a head cold or sore throat, for example.

Ken Wenman, Chief Executive, said that this was putting additional pressure on the system.

"The 999 service is an emergency one and is for life threatening situations only," he said.

"Non emergency calls not only waste our time, they also put other people's lives at risk.

"Christmas is a time to think of others so please do your bit now by finding out what NHS services are available in your local area.

"Be informed - save a life."

There are a number of alternative treatment options available for people who experience minor illness.

These include visiting a local treatment centre or minor injury unit, found at many community hospitals in the South West. Details of these are usually available in the Yellow Pages or BT phone book.

Many NHS websites covering Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset and Somerset also carry information about local services.

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