Do what you can to ease pressure on our medical services

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From: Rod Barnes, Interim Chief Executive, Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

AS a vital emergency service that provides life-saving care and treatment to residents of Yorkshire and its many visitors all year round, Christmas is just like any normal working day for many of our staff.

To ensure patients receive the care they need we have staff working across vital services – our emergency ambulance service, including those taking 999 calls in our emergency operations centre, and the 24/7 NHS 111 service providing advice and help for those people who have an urgent healthcare need.

We have been experiencing unprecedented levels of demand during the last week and we have been very busy responding to everything from heart attacks and strokes to road traffic collisions, alcohol-related illnesses and injuries, and giving advice on ailments such as indigestion and headaches.

As this holiday period is a traditionally challenging time for us, I am writing to your readers to ask them to do what they can to ease the pressure on our services by behaving responsibly, looking after friends and neighbours who may be vulnerable at this time of year and staying safe. This will help to avoid the need to call an ambulance – something no-one wants during this festive time.

Please stock up on medication to manage common health conditions. Please only call 999 in an emergency when it is obvious that you or another person has a serious or life-threatening illness or injury and needs time-critical help. We often find our staff are caught up dealing with patients with non-urgent conditions where alternative care would have been more appropriate. These calls divert emergency staff away from those with potentially life-threatening conditions and can cause dangerous delays.

The Trust is urging people to ‘choose well’ and select the most appropriate service for their healthcare needs. This includes self-care, pharmacists, GP surgeries and urgent care centres across the region as well as NHS 111. A dedicated page on our website contains details of local walk-in centres and minor injury units.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff who have worked tirelessly over the last 12 months to care for patients and to those who are working over the festive period for their continued dedication, commitment and professionalism during what will be a busy time. As always, this is very much appreciated by the Trust and, more importantly, our patients.