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Paramedics urge Londoners to keep safe this Bank Holiday weekend as cases of breathing difficulties start to climb

As the long May Bank Holiday weekend approaches, London Ambulance Service is reminding people to use 999 only in life-threatening emergencies and to take steps to keep healthy.

A combination of thunderstorms and high pollen count has seen numbers of people with breathing difficulties or having asthma attacks creeping up. The service is taking around 5,800 999 calls a day – around 10 per cent more than this time last week.

An ambulance on blue lights driving in dark and stormy weather.

Londoners can play their part by only using 999 in life-threatening emergencies and checking ahead of the long weekend they have enough medication as GPs and some pharmacies will be closed.

London Ambulance Service Chief Medical Officer Dr Fenella Wrigley said:

“Due to a number of factors such as stormy and wet weather, tree pollen and respiratory illnesses in the community, we are heading into the Bank Holiday weekend facing strong demand for ambulances, particularly from people reporting difficulty breathing.

“We are doing everything we can to reach people who need us, with teams of clinical staff in control rooms who can talk to people calling 999 and getting hundreds of ambulances out on the road each day.

Examples of medical emergencies where 999 is the appropriate call include chest pains, strokes, severe difficulty in breathing, unconsciousness, severe loss of blood, severe burns or scalds, choking, fitting or head injuries, drowning or severe allergic reactions.

For other conditions, where the condition is not an emergency, Dr Wrigley called on Londoners to help us deal with the demand by considering alternatives to 999.

“If it’s not a critical or life-threatening emergency, please consider other options such as GPs and pharmacies where these are still available, or NHS 111 online. NHS 111 should be your first port of call if you’re unsure what to do or unsure which service you need.

“If you need advice or medication from a pharmacist in London, use the NHS pharmacy finder to check which pharmacies are open near you.

“Please also check on any vulnerable family or friends ahead of the weekend to make sure they are safe and have the medication that they need.”

If you no longer need an ambulance or you can make your own way to hospital, you should call back on 999 to let us know. Crews can then be redirected to another patient who needs us. Find out more about calling 999 on our website.


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