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Help us, help you, says the Welsh Ambulance Service

THE Welsh Ambulance Service is appealing to the public to use 999 responsibly following a high number of calls in the recent days.

The Trust has received almost 13,000 calls to 999 since Boxing Day, and almost 36,000 calls to its NHS 111 Wales service.

More than 116,000 visits have been made to the NHS 111 Wales website in the same period, where more than 7,500 symptom checkers were completed.

Lee Brooks, the Trust’s Executive Director of Operations, said: “Like our partners across health and social care, our ambulance service is also extremely busy.

“Pent up demand from the Christmas and New Year period, coupled with the seasonal illnesses we see at this time of year, means there are lots of people across Wales trying to access health services currently. 

“When hospitals are at full capacity, it means ambulances can’t admit their patients, and while they’re tied up at Emergency Departments, other patients in the community are waiting a long time for our help, especially if their condition isn’t life-threatening.

“We’re working really hard as a system to deliver the best possible care to patients, but our ask of the public today – and in the coming days – is only to call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured, or where there is an immediate threat to someone’s life.

“That’s people who’ve stopped breathing, people with chest pain or breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness, choking, severe allergic reactions, catastrophic bleeding or someone who is having a stroke.

“For everything else, please think about the alternatives to 999, of which there are many.”

  • For health advice and information, the NHS 111 Wales website should be your first port of call. From abdominal pain to anxiety, headache to hiccups, diarrhoea to dizziness and more, the 111 symptom checkers will help you find out what’s wrong and the next steps to take.
  • You could also call NHS 111 Wales if it’s more urgent.
  • Visit your local pharmacy. As qualified healthcare professionals, pharmacists can dispense prescribed medication and offer free clinical advice over-the-counter medicines for a range of common ailments, such as coughs, colds, skin rashes, bites and aches and pains.
  • Consider making your own way to hospital if it’s safe and appropriate to do so, but only if that’s where you need to be. You risk a very long wait if your need is not urgent.
  • Remember your nearest Minor Injuries Unit, where experienced emergency practitioners can help with things like limb injuries, burns, bites and stings. You can find out where your nearest one is by looking at your local health board’s website,
  • Don’t take unnecessary risks, especially while there are weather warnings in place across Wales – it’ll remain unsettled for a few more days, so don’t drive unless you need to, for example.
  • Think about self-care and the ways you can look after yourself at home – ensure you’ve collected any repeat prescriptions and that you have a fully-stocked first aid box.

Lee added: “We all rely on our NHS, and we are committed to making things better for our patients and our people.

“It will take a system-wide effort to effect meaningful change, and as an ambulance service, we’re thinking differently about the way we deliver services in the future.

“We’d like to thank the public for their patience as we work as quickly as possible to reach as many people as possible.

“We’d also like to thank our hard-working staff and volunteers for consistently going above and beyond to care for the people of Wales in extremely difficult circumstances.”

Editor’s Notes
The data referenced here is for the period 26 December – 02 January (inclusive).