The ambulance service is warning about it’s ability to respond quickly to 999 calls as it prepares for the ‘busiest weekend of the year’.
South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust says it is continuing to experience high levels of demand, which is affecting its ability to respond quickly to 999 emergencies.
As a result the trust is asking the public to think carefully about whether they need to call for an ambulance, this weekend.
The trust’s on call Gold Incident Commander, Richard Webber said: “We are already receiving a high volume of emergency 999 calls, especially across Kent and are struggling to reach many of these in a timely manner.
“Our staff are already working extremely hard but this does mean that for certain emergencies, some patients can expect to wait longer for an ambulance as we focus our efforts on responding to calls which are deemed life-threatening.
“The public can help us by avoid calling us for non-life-threatening emergencies and seek alternative treatment from other healthcare providers or if you do require hospital treatment look to make your own way there.”
During the festive period so far, the trust has seen a 10 per cent increase in demand compared to last year.
Between 7pm on Christmas Eve until 11pm on Boxing Day paramedics had responded to 4,840 emergency calls.
Last year, between 10pm on New Year’s Eve and 4am on January 1, the trust handled 1,135 calls – an average of more than three 999 calls a minute.
A ambulance service spokesman said: “This year it is expected to be even higher. We’d like to remind people to only dial 999 in the event of a serious emergency and remember the other options available, such as calling NHS 111, which we run in partnership across Kent, Surrey and Sussex with Care UK.
When to call 999:
If you think a patient is suffering from one of the following you must dial 999 for an ambulance: heart attack (e.g. chest pain for more than 15 minutes); sudden unexplained shortness of breath; heavy bleeding; unconsciousness (even if the patient has regained consciousness); traumatic back/spinal/neck pain
You should also call for an ambulance if: you think the patient’s illness or injury is life-threatening; you think the illness or injury may become worse, or even life-threatening on the way to the hospital; moving the patient/s without skilled people could cause further injury; the patient needs the skills or equipment of the ambulance service and its personnel
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