Calling 999 doesn't always mean an ambulance or a trip to hospital...
North West Ambulance Service (NWAS)
is launching a new campaign to show how it helps patients get the
rightcare. On road, on foot, over the phone and in the sky; there
are a number of ways the Service can help to make sure patients get
the right care, at the right time, in the right place.
NWAS saw a five per cent increase
in the number of 999 calls received (during the period 1 April 2012
to 31 March 2013) - 1,170,154 compared to 1,113,398 the previous
year. Yet only a third of these calls were categorised as
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the variety of ways in
which the Service can help, including how it seeks alternatives for
those patients whose conditions are deemed less serious - keeping
ambulances free for those who need them most.
From today, a film featuring ambulance staff and volunteers will
be available to watch on the Trust's social media pages and
website: www.nwas.nhs.uk. The
film shows how the ambulance service endeavours to get the right
care for each patient's specific needs and this won't necessarily
be an ambulance.
In the case of non-life-threatening incidents, the Service can
do various things to help before an ambulance is dispatched - it
utilises Specialist Paramedics to call back patients whose
conditions are less serious; they can put patients in touch with
their GP or a community specialist, advise them to visit their
local Urgent Care Centre, book them an emergency appointment with a
dentist or give self-care advice over the phone.
If an ambulance response is appropriate, there's more than the
traditional ambulance crew available to help. The Service uses
paramedics in cars and on cycles, air ambulances and trained
After assessment, ambulance staff have more options available
than Emergency Departments - they can take patients to urgent care
centres, refer them to a healthcare professional in the community
or leave them at home with self-care advice.
Derek Cartwright, Acting Director of Operations at North West
Ambulance Service, said: "The aim of this campaign is to raise
awareness of what people can expect when they call on us for
"Not all patients are taken to the nearest emergency department;
instead, they are assessed or treated by highly skilled clinicians
who work out the best place for them to get help for their specific
needs. This is all about getting the right care, at the right time,
in the right place.
"999 should always be called for an immediately life threatening
or serious incident and an emergency ambulance will always be
dispatched to those patients who need one. What we want to do
is raise awareness of all the routes to care available to the
public, and to highlight that if you go to the right place first,
you could be on the route to recovery much more quickly.
In addition to the film, NWAS's website boasts an interactive
quiz so you can see how much you know about calling 999.