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Ambulance appeal: you can call 999 to cancel too

Date published: 12 December 2018


Over one million pounds of public money is wasted every month when crews from North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust are called out but find nobody to treat.

Every month there are 1,181 ambulance responses to locations where no patients are found which costs the NHS £171 thousand a month.

A further 6,207 responses are made to people who refuse care and treatment from paramedics when they arrive on scene at a cost of £900 thousand a month.

With each of these call outs costing approximately £145 the total price of wasted ambulance journeys costs the region’s ambulance service, and the public purse, £12,855,120 a year which could have funded:

92 brand new, fully kitted emergency ambulances

The salaries and staffing costs for 286 paramedics or 390 emergency medical technicians

1071 high spec monitoring devices for heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels and to defibrillate patients in cardiac arrest 

2,571,024 blankets to keep patients warm

1071 ambulance stretchers

NWAS has published the figures as part of its ‘make the right call’ campaign which urges the public to choose the right NHS service to get the most appropriate care and ensure ambulances are only going to people who really need them.

Director of Operations at NWAS, Ged Blezard, said: “The cost of wasted journeys is significant, but so is the amount of time that we spend looking for people who we think need our help when we could actually be helping someone else.

“There are many reasons why people may not be there when our crews arrive; sometimes they decide to go to hospital with a family member, or get treatment elsewhere, but don’t let us know.

"This could be down to unrealistic expectations of how quickly ambulances respond, or because we are simply that busy that they, unfortunately, have to wait longer for a response than we would like.

“It is really important that if people no longer need us they call 999 to cancel so that we can get to the next patient quickly and don’t waste time trying to find people who don’t need or want our help.”

NWAS crews respond to 3,000 incidents every day across five counties - Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Merseyside - and the maximum  number of ambulances on the road serving the population of over seven million people is 329.

Essentially this means that there is one ambulance per 21,000 people.

Mr Blezard continued: “Winter is always the busiest time of year for the ambulance service. 999 calls increase as the weather gets colder and party season is underway.

"It’s even more important at this time of year that you help us to help you.

“We want people to do the right thing first which will get them the best care; this means calling 999 when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.

"For urgent medical advice when it’s not an emergency they can get advice at 111.nhs.uk.

“And remember; please call 999 to cancel an ambulance if it’s no longer needed.”


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