Help London Ambulance Service to help you this winter
Our guest blogger is Antony Tiernan, Director of Communications and Engagement at the London Ambulance Service. Here he blogs about how the Service is responding to the combined pressures of COVID-19 and winter, and how local people can support them at this difficult time.
Winter is always a busy time for the London Ambulance Service and our NHS partners. But this winter has seen us face the additional, significant challenge from the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a difficult time for us all, but we must ask that you continue to play your part and help us to help you.
Our frontline ambulance crews and 999 call handlers are under enormous pressure trying to help an unprecedented number of patients, working tirelessly in the most challenging of circumstances.
Demand for our services rose sharply during the last few weeks of 2020 with us taking up to 8,000 999 calls a day compared to 5,500 on a typical ‘busy’ day. To help us reach patients who need us as quickly as we can, we ask the public to only call 999 for life-threatening emergencies. This includes loss of consciousness, fits that are not stopping, chest pain, severe bleeding that cannot be stopped and severe burns or scalds.
For urgent medical help when it’s not an emergency, please go to NHS111 online first – www.111.nhs.uk. If you cannot get online, call 111. The 111 service now has more doctors, nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, dental nurses and trained health advisors than ever before.
These are qualified medical personnel able to provide support and advice and they can help with booking GP appointments or even a slot in A&E (accident and emergency) if that is what you need.
If you call 999 but it’s not a life-threatening emergency, you will be waiting longer for an ambulance as we have to make sure our control room teams, and ambulance crews speak to and treat the most seriously ill or injured patients.
If you no longer need an ambulance or you can make your own way to hospital, please call us back on 999 to let us know. Our crews can then be redirected to another patient who needs us.
You can also play your part and help us to help you by continuing to observe the coronavirus restrictions. Please stay at home and follow all the national Government guidance. This is extremely important – staying home protects the NHS and saves lives.
Our crews wear face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves and to protect our patients. If we come to your home, please also wear a face covering unless you are exempt and maintain social distancing.
I’d like to say thank you to the public and local communities for the support they’ve shown us and other NHS, health and care organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’d also like to publicly thank all of our staff and volunteers who are going above and beyond to care for Londoners in need.