From back pain to sunburn: Nearly a quarter of calls to 999 not an emergency

Calls to the Welsh Ambulance Service were up 4% on the previous weekend Credit: Welsh Ambulance Service

Nearly a quarter of 999 calls over the weekend were not urgent, says the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust.

The trust says these calls fell into the 'green' or non-emergency category, including sun burn, being unable to go to the toilet and back pain from gardening.

Of the 4,400 calls last weekend, 22% of which were green, an increase of 4% on the previous weekend (July 16-18).

The spike comes a week after they declared a "Business Continuity Incident", where demand outstripped the capacity to respond.

Last week, the service said calls were up by 175% compared with the same Monday last year.

Pressure is rising on the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Lee Brooks, Director of Operations for the Welsh Ambulance Service said: “We are asking people to consider the alternatives to calling 999 if their situation is not a life threatening emergency – this will help us in assisting those most in need of our emergency ambulances.

“For non-urgent conditions it is vital people begin to use one of the many alternatives to 999, starting with the symptom checkers on our NHS 111 Wales website as well as their GP, pharmacist and Minor Injuries Unit.

“If your call is not for a life-threatening emergency but you feel you require hospital treatment then you may be asked to consider an alternative method of transportation such as any family, friends or neighbours who can drive you."

The Welsh Ambulance Service has been busier than usual recently due to the hot weather

With one in five people in Wales being affected by a lung condition, calling 999 for a breathing related problem accounted for 11.6% of call demand for the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Many breathing conditions can be aggravated by a change in weather, including extreme heat as we have been experiencing and Joseph Carter, Head of Asthma UK & British Lung Foundation Wales, said: “Some people find that hot summer weather causes a flare up of their lung condition symptoms.

“This is why it’s so important to understand your personal weather triggers and plan ahead.

“We have 314,000 people with asthma and 76,000 with ChronicObstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in Wales so it is important to look aftereach other as well as ourselves and some great tips are:

  • High pollen and pollution levels can combine with heat and increase your chance of having a flare up, so make sure you check the weather, pollen and pollution forecasts.

  • Use a hand-held fan if you get breathless and taking a cool bath or shower if you feel overheated.

  • Have plenty of cold water and drink regularly, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

  • If you use inhalers, keep them in a cool place, where possible, and out of direct sunlight, so they continue to work well. Check the leaflet for your inhaler for storage instructions.