STOP, think and be sensible – that is the plea of emergency service staff stretched to breaking point across the region this Christmas who fear misuse and abuse of the emergency services could result in there being ‘no room at the inn’.
Winter and particulary the festive season always see a huge spike in the number of people calling 999 and visiting A&E.
But hospital and ambulance staff are urging members of the public to only use the emergency services in a genuine emergency.
Matthew Cooke, executive medical director at Heartlands Hospital said A&E departments are for life-threatening and emergency conditions, such as heart attacks, strokes, breathing problems and serious accidents.
He added: “We’re asking people to think carefully about whether A&E is really the best place for their condition.
“There are a wide range of facilities that offer out-of-hours support and treatment that is available across the region, aside from the emergency department at the Hospital.”
It isn’t just the hospitals that are struggling across the region.
On Saturday (December 13), WMAS staff responded to more than 3,550 emergency calls, making it the fourth busiest day for the Service on record.
The dramatic increase saw call numbers rise to levels only normally experienced on New Year’s Eve – putting pressure not only on front-line staff in ambulance vehicles, but also on Emergency Operations Centre staff answering the calls.
Craig Cooke, Assistant Chief Ambulance Officer, said his staff are working around the clock to respond to patients but WMAS need the public’s help to ensure we’re preserving our ambulances and highly skilled staff for the people who need us the most.
He added: “Many people who dial 999 could treat themselves at home or access advice from NHS 111 either online or over the phone.
“This would leave the ambulance service to deal with life threatening illness or injury such as chest pain, strokes, breathing difficulties, unconsciousness and severe blood loss.”
The pressures follow a turbulent year for the Heart of England NHS Trust which operates Solihull, Heartlands and Good Hope hospitals.
Solihull Hospital’s A&E was officially downgraded earlier in the year with all A&E admissions being sent to Heartlands and the trust has been battling poor performance statistics which led to the resignation of chief executive Dr Mark Newbold.