For the majority, Easter Bank Holiday is a long relaxing weekend with the family, with the worst ailment being chocolate over indulgence, but for all the staff at the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, it is an exceptionally busy time.
The Easter break usually sees an increase in the number of calls to 999 and visits to A&E and emergency departments, as a result of the two Bank Holidays. For example, during Easter 2014, there was a 3.2 per cent increase in the number of immediately life-threatening and potentially life-threatening calls when compared to the previous weekend.
Director of Operations Derek Cartwright said: “We tend to see an increase in calls around the holiday periods as many people don’t know what alternative care is available when their GP practice is closed.
“The issue for us and our emergency department colleagues is that any increase in activity, means that it can take longer for us to respond to and treat people who have a genuine emergency – for example people with heart problems, who have had a stroke, had a serious accident or who have breathing problems.”
The Trust is urging people to ensure they have sufficient pain killers such as paracetamol at home, have collected prescriptions from their GP and consider alternative care if they feel unwell or to find out what local pharmacy is open during the holiday.
“We would encourage people to think before calling ‘999’ and consider the other healthcare options available to them,” added Derek. “People also sometimes call 999 because they think this will get them seen quicker. That isn’t the case. The last thing people need to be doing over the Bank Holiday is sitting in an emergency department when they don’t need to be there.
“There are a number of alternative options to calling ‘999’. These include urgent care centres, out-of-hours doctor, walk-in centres and local Pharmacies with all provide urgent care when the need is not an emergency. However, for serious or life-threatening emergencies, you should always call ‘999’.
“Please help us to help the most vulnerable people, by keeping ambulances free to deal with genuine emergencies.”
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