Residents urged to think twice before calling emergency services

Tuesday 9th December 2014 – 3pm – Chris Kowalik in conjunction with Wye Valley NHS Trust

In the build up to Christmas, people in Herefordshire and the surrounding areas are being reminded to only call 999 or visit A&E in a life-threatening emergency.

West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) and Wye Valley NHS Trust are calling on people to think twice before ringing 999 or going to their local accident and emergency department this winter, unless it’s a life threatening emergency. The plea comes as emergency and hospital services prepare for a busy winter and festive period.

In the last year alone, WMAS received more than 28,500 calls in Herefordshire, which is more than 15 per cent of the county’s population. 90 per cent of these calls were non-urgent for minor ailments and injuries.

Debbie Small, West Midlands Ambulance Service Area Manager for Herefordshire, said: “Our staff are working extremely hard to make sure that patients receive a speedy and safe response, throughout the winter period.

“999 is specifically designed for people with serious and critical illnesses or those who need advanced medical treatment en-route to hospital, such as choking, chest pain, stroke, serious blood loss or if someone is in a state of unconsciousness.”

These are some of the non-urgent Herefordshire 999 calls received last year.

  • Wart on a finger
  • Headache after a night out
  • Stubbed toe

Paramedics and A&E staff are usually the first point of contact for people requiring urgent medical attention.

Chris Hughes, Paramedic at West Midlands Ambulance Service, said: “When people misuse the service it means our precious time is being taken away from someone who really does need our help. Every non-essential call has the potential to delay a response to a serious emergency, so please think twice before calling 999”.

Jenny Weaver, one of the A&E Sisters at Hereford County Hospital, added: “Whilst we don’t turn patients away who attend with non-urgent conditions or illnesses, A&E really isn’t the right place if you have a minor illness or injury.

“If you have a cold, flu, sore throat, stomach upset or hangover, please see your pharmacist. For minor cuts, slips, trips and falls, contact your GP, GP out-of-hours service, or visit the walk-in centre in Hereford. If urgent advice is needed, and it’s not an emergency, call NHS 111”.

A 999 emergency ambulance should be called if a person is:

  • having a suspected heart attack
  • complaining of chest pains
  • unconscious
  • losing a lot of blood
  • having a suspected stroke
  • suffering from a deep wound or head injury
  • struggling to breathe

For details of local health services visit

Residents Urged to Think Twice Before Calling Emergency Services 09-12-14

Pictured left to right: David Horner – paramedic WMAS, Jenny Weaver – A&E Sister, and Chris Hughes – paramedic WMAS

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