Misuse of ambulance service costs lives
South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) is asking the public to call 999 for emergencies and life-threatening situations only, after it was revealed the service received 1,235 hoax calls and many more inappropriate calls during 2011.
Inappropriate calls to 999 included requests to attend broken fingernails, change light bulbs, provide lifts home, fix broken TV remote controls and attend to pets.
In response the ambulance service has today launched a hard-hitting campaign film '999 South Central' to show how lives are put at risk when 999 is called inappropriately.
Will Hancock, CEO, SCAS, says, "Everyone at SCAS is committed to continually improving the service we provide to the community. Demand has doubled in the last 10 years and we need people to use the service appropriately.
"Overall the public is very supportive of the ambulance service. However, there are a number of people who do abuse it. Please think before you dial 999. The ambulance service is for emergencies and life threatening situations only.
"For all non life-threatening health issues alternative methods of health care are available to you, such as your GP, NHS Direct, walk in centres and other out of hours health services."
There is one ambulance available per 33,000 people across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Berkshire. Each time an ambulance is used inappropriately it is not available to attend a life-threatening situation.
Paul Jefferies is a Hampshire area manager and a highly experienced paramedic working with the ambulance service for over 18 years. He says, "Inappropriate calls I have regularly experienced include responding to the emergency of a man in "severe pain" and on arrival he wanted me to pass him some paracetamol from a table less than two metres away; people calling 999 because they want a lift to visit a relative in hospital; or people injured with say a broken finger, which is not life threatening, but they have no money to get to A&E.
"This misuse takes vital resources away from people in life-threatening situations. If you or someone from your family is in cardiac arrest you want to know that that emergency care is going to be with you as quickly as possible. However, we have been called miles away to pass someone paracetamol from a table."
SCAS employs approximately 2,400 staff covers an area of some 3550 square miles spanning the counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Hampshire and primarily exists to provide a 999 medical emergency response to a resident population of around 4 million and millions more visitors the area attracts each year.
SCAS has just been awarded Ambulance Trust of the Year on account of its success in responding more quickly to immediately life threatening emergencies than any other ambulance service in England during 2010/11.
Watch '999 South Central' at www.999southcentral.co.uk.
For more information and to arrange interviews please contact:Kat Byles on 07901 701 334 or email@example.com.
Published 5 January 2012