Stretched paramedics are preparing for one of their busiest weekends of the year in South Yorkshire - as ambulance bosses urge people only to dial 999 for serious medical emergencies.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service said it is currently enduring a ‘challenging period’ - with a higher-than-normal volume of calls this week.
As the Christmas party season gets into full swing, bosses are urging people to help remove the pressure on services.
Dr David Macklin, interim executive director of operations at the trust, said: “The service has received hundreds of 999 calls this week for seasonal-related illnesses and incidents and we are treating a lot of patients with breathing difficulties as a result of cold and viruses.
“As we approach a busy weekend of pre-Christmas celebrations and office parties we expect there to be a significant influx of calls to alcohol-related incidents.
“These calls are in addition to other medical emergencies such as injuries from road traffic collisions, heart attacks and strokes.
“Whilst many people do use our emergency service appropriately, some callers could be helped by other more appropriate healthcare services.”
“We would ask people who are out and about to be conscious of how much they are drinking, eat beforehand and make sure they plan ahead for transport home.
“We would like to thank members of the public for their support during this challenging period and recognise the efforts of our staff who are working extremely hard to provide services for our patients.
“Anyone needing advice and treatment for non-emergencies should consider options such as a visit to a local pharmacist or GP surgery, a call to NHS 111 or visit an urgent care centre. In addition the NHS Choices website provides helpful information and advice on many common conditions, treatments and local services.”
It comes after one 89-year-old woman lay on the ground with a broken wrist in the wind and rain in Sheffield city centre for an hour before an ambulance reached her this week.
The ambulance trust has recently been fined more than £200,000 for delays in reaching seriously-ill patients in Sheffield.