THE WELSH AMBULANCE SERVICE has revealed the most inappropriate calls made to 999 in the past year.
Among them was someone who had eaten a mouldy tomato and someone who had got their plaster cast wet.
One person with an earring lodged inside their ear asked for a “lift” to the Emergency Department, while another dialled 999 for a papercut.
Of the 470,653 incidents recorded by the service in the last 12 months, nearly a quarter were non-essential, including someone with diarrhoea and someone enquiring about their medication.
In the face of unprecedented demand, the ambulance service is reminding people only to call 999 in a serious or life-threatening emergency.
Chief Executive Jason Killens said: “Our ambulance service exists to help people who are seriously ill or injured, or where there is an immediate threat to their life.
“That’s people who’ve stopped breathing, people with chest pain or breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness, choking, severe allergic reactions, catastrophic bleeding or someone who is having a stroke.
“People with something stuck in their ear still have a clinical need, but calling 999 for that is ill-judged when there are so many other ways to access more appropriate help.
“Non-essential calls represent nearly a quarter of our total 999 calls, and time spent dealing with these could be time spent helping someone in a life or death situation.”
As Covid-19 tightens is grip, the Trust is asking the public to think about the many alternatives to 999.
Director of Operations Lee Brooks said: “Winter is traditionally our busiest period, and we also have a global pandemic to contend with.
“It’s easy to make fun of the people who call 999 foolishly, but actually, these people do have a legitimate clinical need – they just don’t know where to turn for it.
“We’re asking the public to educate themselves on the NHS services available in their area, of which there are many.
“The symptom checkers on the NHS 111 Wales website are a good place to start for advice and information, or you could phone 111 to speak to a nurse or health information advisor.
“Also think about your local pharmacist, dentist and optician, as well as your minor injuries unit and GP.
“Also ensure you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet for things which can be treated at home, like coughs and colds, sore throats and grazed knees.
“Every single one of us has a responsibility to use NHS services wisely and protect them for those who need them most.
“Help us to help you, and think twice before you call 999.”
The following are real 999 calls made to the Welsh Ambulance Service in the past year –
Caller: Basically, I had a piercing a few weeks ago in my ear. Everything’s been fine but last night I woke up and the piercing had gone. I can’t find the piercing and it feels like it might be in my ear drum.
Operator: Right, OK.
Caller: Normally I would go to A&E myself but I don’t actually have any money. A lift to A&E would be amazing.
Caller: My neighbour came here and she gave me a sandwich, cheese and tomato. Anyway, I feel quite sick now. I looked at the tomatoes and there’s mildew on them.
Operator: OK, is that why you’re requiring an ambulance?
Caller: I was mucking about with my plaster cast and it’s coming apart. I don’t know whether to get a taxi or an ambulance.
Operator: From the information you’ve given, you require a more detailed assessment by a nurse. An ambulance will not be sent at this time.
Caller: Oh, you’re joking. Are you being serious?
Operator: We’re extremely busy at the moment.
Caller: I’ll get a taxi.
Caller: I cut my arm, my arm’s cut.
Operator: How did you do that?
Caller: I sliced it on a piece of paper.
Operator: When did this happen?
Caller: About half an hour ago.
Operator: Is there any serious bleeding?
Operator: Tell me exactly what’s happened.
Caller: Basically, my mum drank apple vinegar but mixed it with water and lemon. Now she has diarrhoea.
Caller: Oh, hi there. Basically, I’ve got my hand in a cast. It’s been in there for three weeks and I’ve got it wet.
Caller: It’s not an actual emergency, I just need to get to hospital.
Caller: What it is, right, I’ve got different medication and I don’t know whether I can take these or not now.
Operator: What’s your telephone number?
Caller: I don’t want an ambulance, I just don’t know if I can take my meds or not.
Hywel Dda Health Board confirms Bank holiday arrangements
FOLLOWING confirmation that Monday, 19 September, will be a Bank Holiday to mark the Queen’s State Funeral, the Health Board is contacting all patients to confirm or re-arrange their appointments, depending on service availability. Whilst all emergency services will be operating as normal, we need to adjust some elements of our planned care services and prioritise patients with urgent care needs wherever possible.
Our Chemotherapy Units will be operating as normal on Monday and some surgery for urgent cases will take place at our hospitals.
Where appointments need to be re-scheduled, patients are being contacted over the coming days by the relevant team to re-arrange their appointment as quickly as possible. In some cases, this may mean bringing appointments forward to this week. Some face-to-face outpatient appointments will still go ahead, and some may be held as an online/virtual appointment on Monday.
If you have an appointment on Monday, and have not been contacted by 1pm on Friday, please contact the health board’s communication hub on 0300 3038322 or email email@example.com for further information and guidance. Staff at the communication hub are available to answer calls between 10am-4pm on Saturday, and 10am-3pm on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday. We are contacting all patients by telephone or text message, please check your telephone for any messages.
As GP surgeries and most Community Pharmacies and Dental services will be closed on Monday, a Bank Holiday out of hours service will be provided. Individuals requiring repeat prescriptions are encouraged to arrange them in advance.
All urgent and emergency care services will continue as normal. If you are unwell and unsure what to do, you can visit the online symptom checker or call NHS 111. The Minor Injury Units at acute hospital sites will be open as usual. Opening hours for community walk-in services can be found on the health board’s website. Please attend an Emergency Department, or call 999, if you have a life-threatening illness or serious injury, such as:
Severe breathing difficulties
- Severe pain or bleeding
- Chest pain or a suspected stroke
- Serious trauma injuries (e.g. from a car crash)
We apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank you for your support and patience.
Autumn Covid-19 booster roll-out begins today in Wales
THE ROLL-out of the autumn Covid-19 booster has started today (September 1) in Wales with care home residents and staff across Wales the first to receive the vaccine.
Everyone who is eligible for the autumn booster will be invited for a vaccination by their health boards. Invitations will be issued in order of vulnerability, with everyone eligible being offered a booster vaccine by December.
The vaccine will help support the immunity of all those who are at higher risk from COVID-19, improving their protection against severe illness, while also helping to support the NHS during winter 2022-23.
This autumn, in line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine booster will be offered to:
- Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults
- Frontline health and social care workers
- All adults aged 50 years and over
- People aged five to 49 years who are in a clinical risk group
- People aged five to 49 years who are household contacts of people who are immunosuppression
- People aged 16 to49 who are carers.
In line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), eligible adults aged 18 and over will initially be offered the Moderna vaccine which protects from both the original strain of coronavirus and the Omicron variant. Those eligible aged under 18 will be offered the Pfizer vaccine. Both vaccines will be offered at least three months after a previous dose.
The vaccines will be administered in a variety of settings including GP surgeries and vaccination centres.
The winter respiratory vaccination strategy will ensure all those eligible for the autumn booster are also protected from seasonal flu – people are being encouraged to take up the flu vaccine when offered. All those eligible for a flu vaccine will be offered it before the end of the year.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “Our winter respiratory vaccination programme will help protect the most vulnerable in our communities from flu and coronavirus this winter. The COVID-19 booster campaign will start with those in care homes, alongside those working within the NHS and the social care sector.
“Vaccines have had an enormous impact on the course of the pandemic – they have saved countless lives and given us the freedom and confidence to restart our lives.
“I want to thank everyone working in the NHS and other organisations who will once again lead efforts to protect the most vulnerable through vaccination.
“This year, we will once again offer an expanded flu programme, with 1.5 million people being eligible for a free vaccine.
I would encourage anyone who is eligible to take up their invitation to help themselves.
“All eligible adults will be invited for their autumn COVID-19 booster via letter and text message from their health board by December and I would ask people not to contact their GPs about their invite so they can continue to focus on looking after people’s health.”
Mask wearing reinstated at Prince Philip Hospital
ALL staff and visitors to Prince Philip Hospital must wear face masks (unless exempt) with immediate effect following the latest review of prevalence of COVID-19 in the community, Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB) has confirmed.
This follows the decisions made last week to reinstate mask wearing at Glangwili Hospital and both mask wearing and visiting restrictions at Withybush Hospital.
Visiting will continue in general at Glangwili and Prince Philip hospitals following the latest review of case numbers but local ward restrictions are in place so please contact the ward to arrange your visit in advance.
Mandy Rayani, Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience for Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Wearing a surgical mask or face covering and keeping a physical distance when attending a hospital or medical facility will help protect our most vulnerable patients and service users.
We are grateful for the ongoing support and efforts of our communities to stop the spread, particularly around more vulnerable people.
“These measures will be continually reviewed, and as soon as it is safe to do so, we will ease these restrictions.”
The health board is stressing the continued importance of the behaviours known to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, and the different requirements in place in health and social care settings.
Mandy, added: “Isolating if we have symptoms of COVID-19, or other infectious diseases, is one of the most important things we can do to prevent the onward spread and break the chain of transmission.
“We strongly encourage anyone in our locality who has the classic symptoms, or who suspects they may have COVID-19 to isolate and take an LFD test. If positive, we urge people to continue with the same isolation guidance that has been in place – this will help you to rest and recover and protect others from risk of transmission.”
The following measures remain in place at Withybush hospital sites (updated 5PM, Tuesday 12 July 2022):
All staff and visitors to Withybush Hospital to wear masks (unless exempt).
Visiting to inpatients/wards is paused, except for end-of-life visits and any visits considered necessary through agreement with the ward sister/charge nurse.
People attending an outpatient appointment are asked to attend alone unless they require the support of a carer/relative.
Testing of all inpatients on admission.
Maternity visiting remains unchanged. A designated birth partner can visit following admission to hospital during pregnancy, throughout labour and following birth. A designated partner can attend antenatal appointments or scans.
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Sir Frank Atherton reminded people to follow simple steps to protect themselves from the risk of catching COVID-19 such as getting vaccinated, wearing face coverings in crowded indoor settings, and taking a lateral flow test if you have symptoms.
The Welsh Government has extended the availability of free lateral flow testing for members of the public until the end of July. Visit www.gov.uk and search ‘order rapid lateral flow kit.’
If you, or someone you care for is not online you can telephone 119 between the hours of 7am and 11pm (people with hearing or speech difficulties can call 18001 119).
Later this week, the Welsh Government will update its vaccine strategy with details of the next booster dose in the autumn.
Sir Frank said: “The vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. While the vaccine does not completely stop transmission it offers protection against serious illness and reduces the risk of hospitalisation.
“You can still get the vaccine if you haven’t had your full course, or you were too ill to get your spring booster and I would encourage parents to think about getting the vaccine for their children over the summer months to help minimise any disruption to their education during the autumn and winter terms.”
To book a vaccine appointment, call 0300 303 8322 or email COVIDEnquiries.firstname.lastname@example.org and for up-to-date information regarding visiting and mask wearing please visit the health board’s website http://hduhb.nhs.wales
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