'Onion juice in eyes' among calls to Wales Ambulance Service last year

Wales Ambulance Service received a number of inappropriate calls last year, including from someone unable to sleep. Credit: PA Images

A pigeon with a broken wing, a caller unable to sleep and onion juice in someone's eyes were among the reasons people contacted the Wales Ambulance Service last year.

Now people are being urged to use the NHS in an appropriate way, particularly when services are stretched during the coronavirus pandemic.

Unless the situation is life-threatening, people with a genuine health concern should first contact their GP or the NHS 111 Wales service, which is accessible 24 hours a day online, and also by phone.

But a recent YouGov survey showed that a third of people in Wales had never heard of NHS 111.

Using the NHS 111 service, people who feel unwell and are not sure what to do can answer questions about their symptoms.

Depending on the situation, they will:

  • Be given self-care advice

  • Be told how to get any medicine needed

  • Find out which local service can help

  • Be connected to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP

  • Get a face-to-face appointment if needed during out of hours periods, and after a call to 111

In emergency situations, such as unconsciousness, difficulty breathing or heavy blood loss, people are asked to call 999.

Stephen Clinton, from the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “We are always here to help people in an emergency, but we are asking everyone to help us by reconsidering the way they access NHS services.

"The methods available have changed and it is worth getting to know the different ways you can access the NHS so you can be seen and treated quicker, with NHS 111 Wales and your GP being your first ports of call.”

Last year, a Welsh police force revealed some of the ridiculous non-emergency calls made during the coronavirus lockdown.

One person asked if they were allowed to buy printer ink, and another asked if they would be permitted to go and wash their horse.

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