Skip to content

Make use of the alternatives to calling 999

15 November 2019

Make the right callSouth East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) is urging people to remember to make use of the alternatives to calling 999 when they are not facing a serious or life-threatening emergency.

As the Trust continues to plan ahead for Christmas, New Year and the colder months, the public can play their part reducing demand on the 999 service and the wider health system by considering using non-emergency services including calling NHS 111, visiting www.111.nhs.uk, attending an Urgent Treatment Centre, Walk-in Centre, Minor Injuries Unit or by speaking to a GP or Community Pharmacist.

Whilst demand for the ambulance service is high all year round, the winter months typically see an increase in pressure. In November 2018, staff in SECAmb’s two Emergency Operations Centres handled in the region of 63,000 calls. The following month saw an increase of approximately 5,000 calls with more than 68,000 received during December.

John J O’Sullivan, SECAmb Associate Director for Integrated Care, (999 & 111), said: “Of course, when someone is facing a serious emergency, they shouldn’t hesitate in calling 999. However, if it’s not serious or life-threatening then there are a number of other options available to people”.

“By making use of the alternatives, such as using the NHS 111 service, which we ourselves provide in North and West Kent, Medway and Sussex, people can really help us, help themselves, and reduce pressure on the wider health system this winter.”

“NHS 111 staff, including clinicians, can be of real help when it’s urgent but not life-threatening. They can provide advice on treatment and also where someone can get the help that they need. And if someone’s condition is potentially serious, NHS 111 can still arrange for an ambulance to be sent to them if appropriate. There is also support available for people to access locally, including booking an appointment to see their GP or speaking to a community pharmacist for advice.”

For further information on how to protect yourself and others this winter please click on the following link: https://www.nhs.uk/staywell

To help people prepare for winter and help themselves, their families and friends throughout the colder months, SECAmb has produced the ‘winter check list’ below.

SECAmb winter check list

• Check your home medicines cabinet – is everything in date? Restock with essentials including cold remedies, pain killers, indigestion tablets and diarrhoea and constipation remedies
• Keep up to date with any repeat prescriptions you or your family or friends need.
• If you or someone you look after is in an at-risk group – don’t forget to book a flu vaccination
• Look out for any vulnerable friends and neighbours – what could you do to help them? Are there any hazards in their homes? Do their slippers need replacing? We attend falls to older and vulnerable people all year round
• Wear appropriate shoes when outside especially during icy weather. We typically see an increase in slips and trips during colder spells
• When was the last time your vehicle was serviced? If your car is safer, so are you
• Carry some useful items in your vehicles such as a blanket and a spade for colder and possible snowy weather
• Wear bright coloured clothing at night. Can you be clearly seen as a pedestrian or cyclist? If walking at dusk or at night use a torch
• Heat homes to at least 18C (65F). You might prefer your main living room to be slightly warmer
• Keep your bedroom window closed on winter nights – breathing cold air can be bad for your health as it increases the risk of chest infections. If outside in the cold, cover your nose and mouth – especially if you have a long-term health condition which might be exacerbated by the cold air
• Keep active when you're indoors. Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so
• Wear several layers of light clothes. They trap warm air better than one bulky layer
• 999 should only be dialed in the event of a life-threatening or serious emergency
• People who are not facing a serious emergency should make alternative arrangements such as dialing NHS 111 or seeking alternative advice from a GP or pharmacist so we can focus on those who need us most.

For further information on how to protect yourself and others this winter please click on the
following link: https://www.nhs.uk/staywell

When to call 999:

If you think a patient is suffering from one of the following you must dial 999 for an ambulance:

• heart attack (e.g. chest pain for more than 15 minutes)
• sudden unexplained shortness of breath
• heavy bleeding
• unconsciousness (even if the patient has regained consciousness)
• traumatic back/spinal/neck pain

You should also call for an ambulance if:

• you think the patient's illness or injury is life-threatening
• you think the illness or injury may become worse, or even life-threatening on the way to the hospital
• moving the patient/s without skilled people could cause further injury
• the patient needs the skills or equipment of the ambulance service and its personnel

Bookmark and Share