999 callers told 'don't ring back to see when your ambulance will arrive'

The East of England Ambulance service are urging the public not to dial 999 to check when their ambulance will arrive

The East of England Ambulance service is urging the public not to dial 999 to check when their ambulance will arrive, as demand for emergency services increases. - Credit: Archant

The East of England Ambulance service is urging the public not to dial 999 to check when their ambulance will arrive, as demand for emergency services increases. 

Those not in need of urgent medical support are being reminded to call the NHS 111 number. 

The call comes from local ambulance leaders as demand for 999 calls is on the rise.  

The EEAST received 22,842 calls last week – 13.9pc higher than in the same week in 2019 before the pandemic. 

While call handlers have reported some 999 calls in recent days have been for non-emergency issues such as back pain, headaches and feeling sick.  


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Patients are also being urged to only call 999 back if their condition worsens – not to check what time their ambulance will arrive. 

Tom Davis, interim CEO, said: “Our frontline ambulance crews, 999 and 111 call handlers and the many other teams who ensure we can respond to patients as quickly as possible are working extremely hard as we see increased demand for our services.  

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“We are prioritising those patients who are most sick and severely injured and everyone who needs an ambulance will get one, however there are other and often better options for people to get the care they need.  

“And as has been the case throughout the pandemic, the public can play their part by using 111 online for urgent advice, calling 999 in life threatening cases – and only calling back if their condition worsens - and by getting the covid jab.”   

The 111 online service offers patients quick advice on the best option for them to get the care they need, including getting a call back from a trained clinician or nurse, booking them an appointment in A&E or providing advice on how to help them recover. 

The public is still being encouraged to contact 999 if they experience: 

  • Signs of a heart attack like a pain like a heavy weight in the centre of your chest 
  • Signs of stroke such as your face dropping on one side 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Heavy bleeding that won’t stop 
  • Seizures or sudden and rapid swelling of the eyes, lips, throat or tongue 

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. 

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