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Hot weather sees ambulance demand soar

Londoners are being reminded to ‘use their ambulance service wisely’ as demand on the 999 system rises in the summer sunshine.

A total of more than 9,300 calls were handled in the control room in Waterloo on Saturday and Sunday—up 17 per cent on the average of the previous four weekends—while the number of responses to Category A (serious or life-threatening) incidents rose by nearly 10 per cent on the same period.

Increases included big rises in the number of patients reported to have either fainted or be unconscious (up 27 per cent), or to have been suffering from difficulty in breathing (up 16 per cent).

The Service would echo some common sense advice from the Department of Health that may help prevent Londoners becoming casualties of the sunshine:

  • Some people are more at risk from the heat than others—for example, older people, babies and young children, and people with any pre-existing medical problems that can affect their breathing. 
  • Try to keep as cool as possible—wear a hat when sitting or working outside and use plenty of suncream.
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid drinking alcohol in the sun.
  • Contact your doctor, pharmacist or NHS Direct (tel 0845 46 47) if you are worried about your health. In an emergency, dial 999 for an ambulance.

Deputy Director of Operations Richard Webber said: “The last few days have been very busy, and our staff have had to work very hard to meet the extra demand.

“It is particularly important that people use us wisely and only call in the case of a genuine emergency, and consider the other options available to them if they are not seriously ill or injured. These include calling NHS Direct or visiting a minor injuries unit, NHS walk-in centre or local pharmacist. If they need to go to hospital for non-emergency treatment, they should use a taxi or get a lift from a friend or relative.”

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For more information please contact the communications department on 020 7921 5113.

More advice can be found at NHS Direct or Department of Health.