It’s time to stop putting paramedics under strain

Andrea McLean

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It’s a job that must be frantic, but yet rewarding at the same time.

Being in charge of taking an emergency 999 call must be a huge responsibility.

From issuing advice to the caller – whether that’s to someone helping a patient, or the patient themselves – those manning the lines at South Central Ambulance Service’s (Scas) control room need to be highly trained and efficient.

So it must be frustrating when the service is abused by members of the public who do not need emergency help from paramedics.

Yes, if you’re in pain or a loved one doesn’t feel very well you will want to do everything for them.

But on occasions the ambulance service is simply abused by people who are too lazy or do not know of the alternative NHS services on offer.

As Mark Ainsworth, operations director for Scas, says: ‘People think they will get a reaction quicker by calling 999.

‘As the weather gets colder, we’ll see an increase in people with respiratory problems.

‘And now we’re in the middle of Christmas party bookings, which means these weeks become extremely busy for us.

‘People expect that by calling 999, you will get an ambulance.’

As well as putting pressure on paramedics it will inevitably hit real emergencies.

With so much change going on in the NHS locally in recent years, it may be forgiveable for some people not to realise where to go to seek emergency help.

So it’s good news that a new NHS number will be set up next year. The 111 number, staffed by experts, will be a fast and efficient way for people to get their medical questions answered fast. Hopefully it will be used to a great extent and stop our ambulances and A&E from being put under pressure.