By James Walerych
“Is that 999? Yes, hello. Could you come over and make me dinner? My home help hasn’t turned up … “
It might sound amusing, but this was just one of 28,500 ‘non-emergency’ calls made to the ambulance service in Northern Ireland last year.
Others included resuscitating a pet, getting help into bed, and getting rings off fingers when they became stuck.
But it’s not just wasting the valuable time of the ambulance crews; it’s actually putting a lot of strain on a service which receives 130,000 calls a year.
The most frustrating thing about it is that these none essential calls can normally be dealt with by the GP out of hour’s phone service which is readily available to the public. The people on the other end of the phone will be able to give you a diagnosis and recommend what course of action to take - if you phone them.
The problem is, however, that often we don’t use this number because we have been brought up in the mindset that in a medical emergency you call 999.
The answer, I believe, is to make people more aware of the NHS out of hours GP service which in most cases will help you out with your non-essential medical emergency.
Just imagine how much more effective the ambulance service would be without these 28,500 calls.
Just imagine how many fatalities on the head of the ambulance service would be prevented.