Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Monday, 21 December 2009

Ambulances to promote 999 appeal

Ambulance service image
Posters are to be displayed on ambulances in the region

Posters are to be put on ambulances in the West Midlands stressing that the 999 service is for life-threatening conditions and emergencies.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said the number of 999 calls it receives every day exceed 2,000, but only 10% of these are genuine emergencies.

The other cases could be dealt with by other areas of the NHS, it added.

It said appropriate reasons for using 999 include having chest pain or a stroke or suffering serious blood loss.

A call to 999 should also be made if somebody was choking, but the remaining 90% of calls consist of "more minor" cases, such as minor cuts and wounds, strains or coughs, colds and flu, the service added.

'Appeal to people'

It said these could be dealt with by other parts of the NHS, such as at a pharmacy, GP surgery and walk-in centre.

An ambulance service spokesman said: "The number of calls made to 999 is constantly increasing and we are managing to get to more of them within the target times.

"But with 90% of these calls not being of a life-threatening nature, we appeal to people to understand what the service is there for and use it appropriately and correctly.

"If our crews and vehicles are called inappropriately, it could result in delays in getting to patients with genuine life-threatening illness or injury."

Figures for one day last week, 14 December, showed the number of 999 calls reached 2,319 in the region.

This total included 1,106 in Birmingham and the Black Country, 475 in Staffordshire, 375 in Coventry and Warwickshire, 132 in Worcestershire, 131 in Shropshire and 100 in Herefordshire.

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