THE Welsh Ambulance Service is reminding people not to call 999 unless it is a genuine emergency.
The service took 31,219 non-urgent calls in the last 12 months, only 670 of which required an ambulance and just three of which resulted in a patient being taken to hospital.
They include a woman who dialled 999 to ask if the green part of a potato was poisonous and a caller whose daughter had drunk water from a dog’s bowl.
One woman called 999 because her boiler had broken and she had no credit to call the gas board, while one man said he needed an ambulance because he had a ring stuck on his finger.
One woman had fallen out with her brother and called 999 for advice.
The Trust is urging people to choose the appropriate service for their healthcare needs so that call takers and ambulance crews are not tied up unnecessarily when a call to a genuine emergency comes in.
Richard Lee, Head of Clinical Services at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “We don’t want to deter anyone from calling 999, but we want them to think twice before they do. Sadly, we still receive a significant number of inappropriate calls that do not require an ambulance response.
“When people misuse the service it means our precious time is being taken away from someone who really does need our help. During peak periods, like the summer, every non-essential call has the potential to delay a response to a serious emergency.
“Please remember only to dial 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk – let’s keep our emergency ambulances for emergencies.”
The thousands of non-urgent calls received via 999 last year include:
- A man who dialled 999 because he had a fly in his ear (Milford Haven, June 2014)
- A woman who had eaten cherries and felt constipated (Porth, August 2013)
- A man who had discovered a bruise on his foot (Tywyn, November 2013)
- A woman who asked whether the green part of a potato was poisonous (Bangor, November 2013)
- A man with a ring stuck on his finger (Burry Port, June 2014)
- A woman whose boiler had broken and had no credit to call the gas board (Swansea, October 2013)
- A woman who dropped a television remote and needed someone to pick it up (Llandudno, December 2013)
- A woman who didn’t have enough money to buy a train ticket (Newport, March 2014)
- A man with a cotton bud stuck in his ear (Bridgend, August 2013)
- A mother whose daughter had drunk water from a dog bowl (Swansea, December 2013)
- A woman who was intoxicated and needed a lift home (St Asaph, April 2014)
- A woman who needed advice because she had fallen out with her brother (Hereford, November 2013)
- A man with blisters on his foot (Penmaenmawr, January 2014)
- A woman with a cast on her leg and wanted it taken off (Tredegar, January 2014)
“The emergency healthcare system across Wales is facing unparalleled pressure,” said Richard Lee.
“We are asking the public to support NHS Wales’ ‘Choose Well’ campaign to ensure busy emergency services are available for those who need them most urgently. If you think you need medical attention, but not necessarily in the form of an ambulance, there are a host of other options you can consider.”
For advice and treatment of most illnesses, visit your GP, or contact NHS Direct Wales, the health advice and information service available 24 hours a day, every day, if you are feeling unwell and are unsure what to do.
“Using this service instead of dialling 999 inappropriately will free up the valuable time of emergency call handlers, and of ambulance crews whose job is to deal with the most serious and time-critical of incidents,” said Richard.