Ambulance bosses have issued a stark warning to South Yorkshire residents – do not ring an ambulance unless it is a genuine emergency as it could cost a life.
NHS chiefs said staff had been called to almost 10 per cent more emergencies this December than last, with staff responding to an additional 170 incidents a day.
As the service enters its busiest period of the year, ambulance chiefs are urging South Yorkshire residents only to ring 999 in the case of a genuine emergency and not to ring for simple medical advice or minor injuries.
Alan Baranowski, of Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said the number of people using the service inappropriately was becoming a growing problem and could delay help getting to those who needed it most.
He said: “We will always respond to medical emergencies where it is believed someone needs time-critical help.
“However, our crews are often faced with people who just require treatment or advice for a minor injury or illness.
“These calls take staff away from patients with potentially life-threatening conditions and can cause delays to them receiving vital treatment.
“Demand for our service is expected to increase further over the next few weeks due to winter illnesses and more people being out celebrating the festivities, so if we can cut down inappropriate calls, it would be of benefit to us and the patients we look after.”
Mr Baranowski said call handlers in the county’s 999 emergency operations centres traditionally saw a rise in calls at this time of year due to the adverse weather and the start of the festive season.
He urged people not to dial 999 when they had minor ailments or needed simple medical advice, but said people should ring 999 in the case of a serious accident, severe loss of blood, heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke, or breathing difficulties.