Wales

Ambulance service anticipates 999 bank holiday increase

Ambuances

The Welsh Ambulance service has urged the public to "choose well" before accessing health services over the bank holiday.

The trust said it sees "an increase in demand" during the long weekend.

Last August bank holiday weekend, the trust got 3,943 999 calls, up from 3,565 in the same three-day period the weekend before.

It stressed the importance of "preserving the service for people facing life-threatening emergencies".

Richard Lee, the ambulance service's director of operations, said August was a busy month for the whole health system because the number of visitors to Wales "increases significantly", particularly over the bank holiday.

He said: "If you arrive at hospital by ambulance and your call is not urgent, you will not be seen any quicker and you could cause a longer wait for someone who really needs the specialist clinical skills and equipment our staff carry.

"Please only call us if it's an emergency and remember there's a whole host of services available to you over the bank holiday."

Image caption 999 calls for ambulances are graded red, amber and green depending on severity

People with long-term health conditions who need medication are encouraged to make sure they have enough of their prescription to last the weekend as pharmacies will be closed or only open on reduced hours.

The ambulance service said, if people feel unwell and are unsure what to do, they can contact NHS Direct or the use the 111 service in the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg or Carmarthenshire areas.

Alternatively, their GP, out of hours service, opticians and minor injury units are available, often without the need for an appointment.

The NHS Direct Wales website also has a number of online symptom checkers for advice on common health problems, as well as a useful search facility to find your nearest Pharmacy, Minor Injury Unit or Emergency Department.

The service said bank holiday weekends also resulted in an increase in alcohol-related callouts for ambulance crews.

The trust has a number of initiatives in place to mitigate their impact, but Mr Lee said the time on such calls could be better spent responding to other emergencies.

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