Staff will be working extremely hard to ensure patients receive the help they require but South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) is urging people to prepare themselves in order to minimise their risk of requiring medical help.
The trust is reminding patients to act now to pick up any required repeat prescriptions by contacting their GP surgery before the weekend.
Residents are also being asked to keep an eye on any elderly or vulnerable family, friends, or neighbours and to check their medicine cabinets are stocked with useful and in-date medication.
The public are also reminded that people should only call 999 in the event of a serious emergency.
Last year SECAmb received more than 10,000 999 calls between Good Friday and Easter Monday and sent a response to more than 8,500 incidents.
People are reminded that by dialing 111 – the NHS non-emergency number – that they can get advice, have symptoms assessed and be directed to the most appropriate medical care.
SECAmb runs the NHS 111 service across its region, (excluding East Kent), in partnership with Care UK. The service is preparing for high demand and is expecting to handle more than 20,000 calls across the four-day weekend.
Andy Cashman, SECAmb’s head of resilience and specialist operations, said: “As ever, we’re expecting a very busy weekend and we know all our staff will rise to the challenge of this increase in demand.
“But we’re urging people to help us by only dialling 999 in the event of a serious emergency. As always we will be prioritising life-threatening calls so a call triaged as being a lower priority is likely to receive a longer response.
“Anyone faced with an emergency shouldn’t hesitate to call but we would urge anyone else who needs help to consider to consider the other options available to them including calling NHS 111 where staff can provide support and advice over the phone and refer patients to out-of-hours services where appropriate.
“Also, while pharmacies may not be operating their usual hours, they too can be a useful place where members of the public can receive expert advice on routine illnesses such as coughs and colds.
“We’re also strongly recommending people ensure they have arranged to collect any necessary repeat prescriptions for themselves or others and ensure their medicine cabinets are in stock and in date.”
When to call 999:
If you think a patient is suffering from one of the following you must dial 999 for an ambulance:
- heart attack (e.g. chest pain for more than 15 minutes)
- sudden unexplained shortness of breath
- heavy bleeding
- unconsciousness (even if the patient has regained consciousness)
- traumatic back/spinal/neck pain.
You should also call for an ambulance if:
- you think the patient’s illness or injury is life-threatening
- you think the illness or injury may become worse, or even life-threatening on the way to the hospital
- moving the patient/s without skilled people could cause further injury
- the patient needs the skills or equipment of the ambulance service and its personnel.
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