Misuse of 999 Can Delay Ambulances

 Thursday 10 December 2015

The Scottish Ambulance Service is asking the public to use the 999 service properly and stop inappropriate calls that waste valuable time and resources during the busy festive period.

Ambulance staff are dealing with 20%-30% increases in calls at peak periods during the festive season and any inappropriate call can potentially delay an ambulance response to someone with genuine need.

Some cases of recent inappropriate 999 calls to ambulance control centres in Scotland include:

  • A man fed up waiting for a taxi after a night out
  • Someone with a sore finger who had cut their nail
  • Request for an ambulance for choking dog
  • A request for the number to call for NHS24

Pauline Howie, Chief Executive, Scottish Ambulance Service, said:

“Our staff work tirelessly to respond to calls for help and deliver the most appropriate care, but the 999 service is for emergencies and we are asking the public to use it wisely so that we can continue to send ambulances quickly to those who need us most.

“At peak periods, like the festive season, every inappropriate call has the potential to put a life at risk and delay a response to a genuine emergency.”

For any healthcare need, other than a serious or life threatening emergency, that can’t wait until the local GP surgery opens, the public should contact NHS 24 on 111, or for general health information go to www.nhs24.com or www.nhsinform.co.uk.