An ambulance service is urging callers to use common sense after receiving 999 calls for sunburn and toothache.
North West Ambulance Service say they are currently facing extremely high levels of demand.
But busy call handlers are having to waste time on non-emergency calls which would be directed to the 111 service.
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Some 999 calls in recent days have involved reports of sunburn, toothache and cut toes, NWAS said.
The service say they have also seen a rise in the number of people calling back to ask how long the ambulance will be – which is hindering other emergency calls getting through.
Since early spring, the ambulance service say they have seen calls for help “significantly increase.”
In June alone, call handlers answered more than 155,000 emergency calls from across the region.
Some 999 calls in recent days have involved reports of sunburn, toothache and cut toes
(Image: Manchester Evening News)
That’s 48,000 more than the same period last year, and 23,000 more than in 2019.
Patients the service is treating are said to be more seriously ill or injured.
Category one calls (life-threatening) and two (emergency) incidents have increased by 27 per cent and 7 per cent respectively in June 2021, compared to 2019.
And last week alone, the service received 43,000 999 calls, averaging 6,200 a day – 24 per cent higher than the same period two years ago, before the pandemic.
Patients are being urged only to call 999 back if their condition worsens or if they no longer need the ambulance – not to check what time their ambulance will arrive.
NWAS Medical Director, Dr Chris Grant, said: “We continue to see high levels of demand for our service, and our teams are working hard to prioritise our sickest and most severely injured patients.
“There are other and often better options than calling 999 to get the care you need.
“You can help us help you by using 111 online for urgent advice and calling 999 in life-threatening cases, then only calling back if your condition worsens or if you no longer need the ambulance.
“We’re doing all we can to make sure we have the maximum number of resources available to help keep people safe under these challenging circumstances.
“I’d like to thank our ambulance crews, 999 and 111 call handlers, and all of our colleagues and volunteers working behind the scenes for their ongoing hard work.”
A number of factors are thought to be contributing to the rise in calls including the warmer weather, an increase in Covid-19 transmission rates in the community, and an increase in the public spending time outside as restrictions ease.
National Strategic Adviser of Ambulance Services, NHS England and NHS Improvement, Anthony Marsh, said: “This is a really tough time for ambulance staff, who are working round the clock to deal with an increased number of calls, and I’d like to pay tribute to their continued efforts to ensure patients get the care they need.
“With pressure on services still high, the public can help us to help them by using 111 online to get medical advice, and of course the most important thing we can all do at the moment is get the Covid-19 vaccine – both doses – which protects us, our families and friends and will help to reduce pressure on the NHS as well.”