YEP Letters: Ambulance chiefs issue Christmas message

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The Yorkshire Ambulance Service, which runs emergency healthcare services across the region, has written a Christmas message for readers.

The message, which was penned by the service’s chief executive Rod Barnes, urges people to only dial 999 in serious emergencies as demand increases over the festive period.

He wrote: “As a vital emergency service that provides life-saving care and treatment to people across Yorkshire and its many visitors throughout the year, the Christmas period is a normal working week for many of our staff.

To ensure patients receive the care they need our staff will be working in the emergency ambulance service, including those handling 999 calls in our two Emergency Operations Centres, and the 24/7 NHS 111 service which provides advice and help for those people who have an urgent healthcare need.

During December so far we have been experiencing rising demand and our emergency service has been very busy responding to everything from heart attacks and strokes to road traffic collisions and alcohol-related injuries. Our NHS 111 service has been providing advice on common ailments such as winter-related illnesses, headaches and minor injuries.

As the festive period is usually a challenging time for the NHS and emergency services, I am writing to your readers to ask them to do what they can to alleviate the pressure on our services. This includes behaving responsibly, looking after friends and neighbours who may be vulnerable at this time of year and staying safe, whether at home or out and about on the roads or busy town centres. This will help to avoid the need to call an ambulance - something no-one wants to do at this time of year.

Please ensure your medicine cabinet is well-stocked so that you can manage common health conditions at home, make sure you have sufficient prescription medicine to last over Christmas and the New Year and remember to pack your medication if you’re going away to stay with friends or relatives. Take extra care when you are out and about, keep warm and ensure you drink responsibly when celebrating.

Only call 999 for an ambulance in an emergency when it is obvious that you or another person has a serious or life-threatening illness or injury and needs time-critical help. We will always respond to patients needing vital medical assistance, but we find on many occasions that our staff are called out to deal with patients whose needs are less urgent. This means that emergency ambulances can be diverted away from patients with potentially very serious conditions.

People suffering from minor illnesses and injuries should consider more appropriate services for their needs such as visiting their local pharmacist or GP, attending a walk-in-centre or minor injuries unit or calling NHS 111.

Whilst the majority of people do use our emergency service appropriately, some callers do need to be reminded about the importance of making the right choice about their healthcare needs and the NHS Choices website provides helpful information and advice on many common conditions, treatments and local services.

We also have a dedicated ‘Choose Well’ page on our website which contains details of local walk-in centres and minor injuries units across Yorkshire and the Humber, in addition to the NHS 111 service provided by the Trust.

You can find the page here or by clicking on the Choose Well link on our homepage

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff who have worked hard over the last year to care for patients and to those who are working over the festive period for their continued dedication, compassion and professionalism during what will be our busiest time. It is very much appreciated by our patients and their families.

I would also like to wish you and your readers a very merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year.