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A&E: Accident & Emergency – not Anything & Everything

The Minister for Health and Social Services, Lesley Griffiths, is making an urgent appeal to the Welsh public to think before dialling 999.
Tuesday 15 January 2013

New information from the Welsh Ambulance Service (NHS) Trust shows yet more inappropriate reasons people call the emergency services.

Pressure on the NHS increases during the winter months, and the situation is made more difficult by members of the public who telephone for an ambulance in non-emergency situations. Inappropriate use of emergency ambulances can deny other life threatened patients in the community critical treatment.

Examples include:

  • After being treated in A&E, a man decided to call 999 and arrange for an emergency ambulance to act as a taxi service home.
  • A caller dialled 999 because they had an infected toenail 
  • A man called 999 for an ambulance saying he had a toothache.
  • Ambulance control received a 999 call from an individual who had bitten a plastic bag and was concerned he had bits of plastic in his teeth.
  • A man dialled 999 from a car park as he was out with friends fishing. He had fallen and injured his wrist, which was bruised. 
  • A woman demanded to be taken into hospital after she was scratched by a cat.

Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said:

“Calling for an emergency ambulance is not always the most appropriate action. It diverts resources away from patients with genuine, potentially life threatening emergencies and increases the pressure on our hard-working paramedics.

“The Choose Well campaign, supported by a smart phone app free to download, is designed to highlight the range of health services available in Wales, and help patients choose the right service for their needs when they have an illness or injury.

“Paramedics and Emergency Department staff do an outstanding job but they are facing increasing pressure year on year. If we can eliminate even a small proportion of inappropriate 999 calls and attendances at Emergency Departments, we can respond more effectively and efficiently to those in a real emergency.

“We are not discouraging people who need it from using emergency services, simply highlighting this is not the only option should you become ill or injured.”



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Health and social care 15 January 2013 Healthier Wales Improving health Mid Wales North Wales South East Wales South West Wales

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