PEOPLE are being urged to only call 999 for life-threatening or serious emergencies, as December is one of the busiest months for emergency services.
Winter is busy for the NHS because of cold weather and seasonal illnesses adding pressure onto already stretched services.
But for South Central Ambulance Service (Scas), demand has continued to rise.
Last year Scas received, on average, just more than 2,000 calls a day in December.
But this year operators have already received almost 2,400 calls in a single 24-hour period – that is an average of 100 calls an hour, every hour.
Although staff are gearing up for a challenging winter, members of the public can help by ensuring staff are available to those who really need them by only calling 999 in a life- threatening emergency.
* Loss of consciousness.
* Persistent, severe chest pain.
* Breathing difficulties or not breathing at all.
* Severe bleeding that cannot be stopped.
* Severe allergic reaction, burn or scald.
Tracy Redman, Scas’ head of operations south east, said: ‘There are a number of factors that affect the demand on our staff.
‘Bad weather can make our roads potentially more dangerous causing a number of serious incidents, it can also exacerbate health problems for those more vulnerable.
‘We must also take into account that Christmas time involves lots of parties and celebrations and the impact that alcohol misuse can have on our services.
‘We of course would like everyone to enjoy their holidays, but self-care, awareness and safe drinking would significantly relieve the pressure on ambulance services and the wider NHS.’
If it is not a life-threatening emergency but medical attention is needed, people can visit St Mary’s Treatment Centre, in Milton, Portsmouth, or a pharmacist.
People can also call NHS 111 or a GP out-of-hours service.
For more information visit nhs.uk.