People urged to only call 999 in an emergency

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East Midlands Ambulance Service is appealing to the public to consider using other healthcare services rather than dialling 999 this winter to free up the service for genuinely life-threatening illnesses and injuries.

The winter months bring an annual spike in demand for the 999 service causing a strain on the ambulance service.

People with minor illnesses and injuries should consider the variety of other NHS healthcare services available to them for advice and treatment.

Director of operations Richard Henderson said: “999 is for life-threatening emergencies only and if you use this number unnecessarily you’re delaying our response to those who desperately need us.”

Mr Henderson said a pharmacist can provide advice and medicines for home treatment of many ailments.

People can also get help at an NHS walk-in centre or minor injuries unit, which are usually open early morning until late at night, or they can ring NHS 111, the new urgent care helpline which is available 24 hours a day.

Accident and emergency departments or the 999 service should only be used in a critical or life-threatening situation when someone is seriously ill or injured, such as chest pain, difficulty in breathing, unconsciousness, severe loss of blood, severe burns or scalds, choking, fitting or concussion, drowning and severe allergic reactions.

To find out more about which NHS services can help you this winter visit