Ambulance service gearing up for busy Bank Holiday weekend
Plea to the public to use services wisely
North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) has issued a fresh appeal for the public to use its services wisely as it gears up for a busy Bank Holiday weekend.
With demand continuing to remain at levels the service normally experienced during the New Year period, and a number of events planned over the Bank Holiday, members of the public are being urged to enjoy themselves but to do so sensibly to avoid support from the ambulance service, and to try 111 online for medical advice.
111 Online – accessed at www.111.nhs.uk offers patients advice on the best option for them to get the care they need, including getting a call back from a qualified clinician, booking them an appointment in A&E or providing advice on how to help them recover.
NEAS clinical services manager Claire Jobling said: “On average, we’re seeing a 25% increase in 111 calls and a 30% increase in 999 calls every week compared to last year. We’re expecting another very busy Bank Holiday weekend, particularly in light of the number of events taking place across the region.
“We want people to enjoy this weekend’s events, but we need everyone to do so sensibly and look after each other so you don’t require our help.
“We are rightly prioritising those patients that are the sickest or most severely injured. Everyone who needs an ambulance will get one, but in some cases, there are some patients who could access the care they need using other options other than dialling 999.
“I would also ask that callers to 999 only ring back if the patient’s condition worsens, rather than to check what time their ambulance will arrive. While we are answering that call it may delay us answering another emergency call such as a cardiac arrest where every second counts.”
The public should continue to contact 999 if they experience:
- A cardiac arrest where the patient is unconscious and not breathing
- Signs of a heart attack e.g. a pain like a heavy weight in the centre of your chest
- Difficulty breathing
- Signs of stroke such as the face drooping on one side or weakness on one side
- Heavy bleeding that won’t stop
- Sudden and rapid swelling of the eyes, lips, throat or tongue
A number of factors are thought to be contributing to the rise in calls, including the warm weather and an increase in the public spending time outside as restrictions ease. More patients are calling 999 with respiratory problems and ambulance demand has been matched by a similar increase in demand at hospital A&E departments.
What should I keep in my medicine cabinet at home?
Medicine or first aid
What it’s used for
Paracetamol and ibuprofen
Effective at relieving most minor aches and pains such as headaches period pain, inflammation in arthritis and sprains.
Oral rehydration salts (such as Dioralyte®)
Fever, diarrhoea and vomiting make us lose water and essential minerals, and can lead to dehydration. If you have these symptoms and can't continue your normal diet, oral rehydration salts can help to restore your body’s natural balance of minerals and fluid and relieve discomfort and tiredness. They don’t fight the underlying cause of your illness, such as a virus or bacteria.
Antacids (comes in chewable tablets, or tablets that dissolve in water, or in liquid form)
Stomach ache, heartburn or trapped wind and be treated by a simple antacid, which will reduce stomach acidity and bring relief.
First aid kit:
These are some of the main items that should be in your first aid kit.
If you have small children – you should keep a thermometer and children’s paracetamol handy, and take with you if you take trips or breaks away.
If you or someone you care for requires medicines regularly, make sure you order and collect repeat prescriptions in good time to ensure you or your family have enough medicine to last over the festive period. Many of the calls to out of hour’s health services are for emergency repeat prescriptions when people have run out of their medication – a situation that could be avoided with some forethought and planning. By thinking ahead for your regular medication you are helping our busy out of hour’s doctors and nurses.
Information on your local NHS services
If you are injured or unwell, there are a number of different NHS services that you can access. If you are unsure if a service can treat your condition, just call ahead and ask.
Your local pharmacy provides expert advice on common health problems and many pharmacies have early and late opening hours.
GP practices and out of hours GP services
Your GP practice treats the majority of your healthcare needs and is usually the first point of contact for most medical issues.
Everyone should be registered with a GP practice - if you are not registered, you can find information about local GP practices at www.nhs.uk.
GP practices are usually open Monday to Friday. Many now open extended hours – sometimes earlier in the morning, later in the evening and some are open on a Saturday.
A&E or 999 – for health emergencies
Please ONLY use the 999 service for serious health emergencies which include: a major accident, broken bones, breathing problems, severe chest pains, unconsciousness, suspected stroke and severe blood loss.