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Inappropriate 999 calls ramp up pressure on ambulances in Wales

Inappropriate calls include hangovers and minor injuries

Ingrid Torjesen

Friday, 17 August 2012

Ambulance services in Wales are coming under sustained and unusual pressure this summer due to inappropriate 999 calls, it has emerged.

Wales' Acting Chief Medical Officer and the Medical Director of NHS Wales, Dr Chris Jones, said not everyone attending emergency departments or calling 999 are emergencies:

"We are seeing a growing number of inappropriate emergency calls to the ambulance service. A 999 call should only be made in the event of a serious medical emergency, such as when life is in immediate danger. All emergency health services are very busy and patients should only attend Emergency Departments (A&E) if they are very badly hurt or if they become very seriously ill.”

The NHS in Wales has released details of a number of inappropriate calls made to the 999 ambulance service in recent months. They include a woman who dialled 999 after being bitten on the finger by a hamster, and two separate calls from men with hangovers following a night out.

Another man rang with a “back” problem and it turned out that he needed someone to rub ointment on his back, and several patients rang in the afternoon with injuries they sustained the night before but did not feel at the time because they were under the influence of alcohol.

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