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Cumbrians urged not to call emergency ambulances for minor injuries

Toothache, sore throat, a splinter in the finger – these are just some of the 999 calls which tie up ambulances in Cumbria.

Ambulance poster photo
From left, Carol Armstrong, sector manager, Sandra Boyd, emergency medical technician (EMT), Mary Morley paramedic, Sharon McQueen, EMT, and Ailsa Kerr, paramedic

The North West Ambulance Service launched a ‘Choose Well’ campaign yesterday to cut down on the number of calls they receive for minor injuries.

The county’s paramedics say their life-saving time and resources are being wasted every day.

The ambulance service is asking people to think twice before calling 999 for injuries which could be treated at a doctor’s surgery – or even a pharmacy.

They say emergency calls for help with issues like nose bleeds, feeling generally unwell, constipation, and minor injuries like splinters – affects their ability to respond to emergency calls.

Paramedic Ailsa Kerr, 33, who has been based at Carlisle for three years, said: “It can be very frustrating when we are called to deal with a minor injury, especially because we know our services might be needed at an emergency.

“We cover a very rural area in Cumbria so it is especially important that our resources are used well.”

She added: “We don’t want to discourage people who have genuine concerns from calling us. But if you are not in an emergency situation and you think your injuries could be treated at a surgery or drop-in centre then please do not call.”

The Choose Well campaign will see ambulances in the county branded with special logos, as shown in the photograph.


The North West Ambulance service covers Cumbria and Lancashire. Between April 1, 2009 and January 26 this year, the service received 373,831 emergency calls.

Out of these calls 2,512 patients refused treatment; 479 were malicious or hoax calls; 965 resulted in nothing being found on arrival on scene; 334 patients had left the scene of the accident or incident; and 2,109 just required to be put back to bed.

National figures show that 77 per cent of emergency calls to ambulance services result in a journey to A&E but only 10 per cent have a life-threatening emergency. Half of all calls could be treated by doctors.

Have your say

A good idea but one that is just common sense, these hypochondriacs who call out the ambulances seem to be devoid of any common sense in fact the only sense they have is NONSENSE!

Posted by Bob on 3 February 2010 at 17:35

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