Ambulance service urges public to make the right call
As the NHS gears up for the busiest winter its ever seen, North West Ambulance Service is urging the public to choose the right health service to get the best treatment. The service’s ‘make the right call’ campaign aims to ensure that patients who need emergency care from ambulance crews are able to get it quickly by promoting alternative options to 999.
Less than 10 per cent of calls to the ambulance service are for the most time critical life-threatening injuries and illnesses such as cardiac arrests, allergic reactions and breathing problems. Around half of calls are for serious conditions such as strokes and heart attacks. But the remaining calls - around a third - are for people with urgent care needs who could get treatment more quickly if they chose the most appropriate service first.
Whilst the service will not dispatch crews to every 999 incident, the ambulance emergency call handlers in the North West answer around 4,000 calls every day. If they are tied up on the phone dealing with non-emergencies then someone in a life or death situation could be waiting longer than necessary to get through.
Dave Rigby, North West Ambulance Service’s manager for Lancashire said: “We are always here to help but there are important things we can all do to take care of ourselves during the winter months. It is vital that the most vulnerable people take preventative steps to keep healthy and stay well. A lot of people who call the ambulance service have issues which could have been avoided had people sought advice at the first sign of illness.”
According to NHS England, the cold weather during winter causes around 25,000 more people to die each year compared to other times of the year and there are a range of conditions worsened by the cold weather – 80 per cent of these deaths are accounted for by people with circulatory diseases such as heart disease, lung illnesses and stroke, dementia and respiratory diseases such as asthma.
Colder weather is not only associated with an increase in deaths but also has a significant impact on the number of people becoming ill, increasing the winter pressures felt by the health care services.
Dave continued: “Throughout the cold weather, looking out for yourself and others is essential to keeping healthy. With winter on the way, now is a good time to make sure you, and those you know who may be particularly at risk from the cold, are as prepared as possible. If you qualify for the free flu jab, get it now. Also remember that eating a healthy, balanced diet and staying physically active can keep you healthy.
“If you do need medical help this winter, making the right decision about which health service to go to is the best way to get quick treatment. We know it can be confusing, so we’ve launched our Make the Right Call campaign to help you understand what each service is there for.”
People can take advice from a pharmacist for common health niggles, book an appointment with their GP for health issues which will not go away, visit an urgent treatment centre for minor illnesses and injuries or call NHS 111 for health advice. In emergencies, if it is safe to get to an emergency department (A&E) without an ambulance then people should do that.