Welsh Ambulance

The Welsh Ambulance Service Trust remains very busy following the declaration last week of a Business Continuity Incident whereby demand outstripped capacity to respond.

This weekend alone (24-26 July) the Trust received over 4,400 calls, many of which (22%) fell into the lowest acuity ‘Green’ calls category. This was an increase of 4% on the previous weekend (July 16-18).

Amongst these ‘green’ 999 calls were things such as sunburn, being unable to go to the toilet and back pain from gardening – all things that can very often be treated by self-care, a pharmacist or the Symptom Checker tools at NHS 111 Wales

Lee Brooks, Director of Operations for the Welsh Ambulance Service said: “We are asking people to consider the alternatives to calling 999 if their situation is not a life threatening emergency – this will help us in assisting those most in need of our emergency ambulances.

“For non-urgent conditions it is vital people begin to use one of the many alternatives to 999, starting with the symptom checkers on our NHS 111 Wales website as well as their GP, pharmacist and Minor Injuries Unit.

“If your call is not for a life-threatening emergency but you feel you require hospital treatment then you may be asked to consider an alternative method of transportation such as any family, friends or neighbours who can drive you.”

With one in five people in Wales being affected by a lung condition, calling 999 for a breathing related problem accounted for 11.6% of our call demand.

Many breathing conditions can be aggravated by a change in weather, including extreme heat as we have been experiencing and Joseph Carter, Head of Asthma UK & British Lung Foundation Wales, said: “Some people find that hot summer weather causes a flare up of their lung condition symptoms.

“This is why it’s so important to understand your personal weather triggers and plan ahead.

“We have 314,000 people with asthma and 76,000 with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in Wales so it is important to look after each other as well as ourselves and some great tips are:

  • High pollen and pollution levels can combine with heat and increase your chance of having a flare up, so make sure you check the weather, pollen and pollution forecasts.
  • Use a hand-held fan if you get breathless and taking a cool bath or shower if you feel overheated.
  • Have plenty of cold water and drink regularly, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • If you use inhalers, keep them in a cool place, where possible, and out of direct sunlight, so they continue to work well. Check the leaflet for your inhaler for storage instructions.
  • Download the free NHS Wales asthma or COPD apps, as these will help you better understand and manage your asthma or COPD

See https://www.blf.org.uk/ for more information on breathing conditions.