Londoners are being urged to think carefully before dialling 999, after the ambulance service yesterday experienced its busiest ever weekday (22 May).
London Ambulance Service staff responded to 1,345 seriously ill and injured patients yesterday – 29 per cent higher than the previous Tuesday. Apart from New Year’s Day, yesterday was the busiest weekday on record.
Assistant Chief Ambulance Officer John Pooley said: “We’ve seen an unprecedented increase in demand from patients suffering potentially life-threatening conditions, such as chest pain and difficulty in breathing.
“Many of these conditions are exacerbated by warmer weather and it may be possible that the sudden change in temperature is having an impact on Londoners.”
As well as critically ill and injured patients, the Service also responded to nearly 4,000 other calls to patients with less serious illnesses and injuries.
As temperatures remain warmer, ambulance chiefs are urging patients with less serious conditions to consider other healthcare options first, so that frontline staff can continue to reach seriously ill and injured patients quickly.
John said: “To ensure that an ambulance is available for those who need us most, as ever, I would urge Londoners with less serious illnesses such as sore throats, skin complaints, earaches or minor injuries – to consider other healthcare providers in the community, for example your local pharmacy or walk-in centre, or calling NHS Direct on 0845 4647.
“We would advise anyone with heart conditions or pre-existing breathing difficulties to make sure they’ve got their medication with them at all times – especially if they’re out and about.
“Those calling 999 for an ambulance with less serious conditions may have to wait longer for an ambulance as we prioritise our critically ill and injured patients.
“People should remember that you don’t get seen any quicker by arriving at A&E in an ambulance.”
In warmer temperatures you should:
- Carry a bottle of water with you
- Ensure you’ve got your medication with you if you have a pre-existing condition linked to breathing difficulties (asthma / hayfever) or a heart condition.
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Notes to editors:
- Yesterday we recevied 5,310 emergency calls into our control room
- Of these 1,345 were Category A – our highest priority call
- The biggest increase in calls was to respiratory and cardiac problems
- Our busiest hour was between 7pm and 8pm when we received 363 calls
- For more information about this news release call the communications department on 020 7783 2286
- Find out more about the London Ambulance Service at http://www.londonambulance.nhs.uk/ or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ldn_ambulance