Ambulance service for Banbury-area asks people to assess situation before calling 999
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The South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) has reminded people to use its 111 service or the guided self-assessment at 111.nhs.uk, as well as calling 999 this winter.
Paul Jefferies, assistant director of operations at SCAS, said: "The winter months always bring additional challenges, not just for our services but for the whole NHS.
"We have been working hard for a number of months to ensure we're ready for winter, but we need the public to help us by making the right call when it comes to any emergency or urgent health needs.
"You should only call 999 if you, or someone you're with, is suffering a serious or life-threatening emergency. This includes things like severe bleeding or burns, unconsciousness, someone not breathing or symptoms of stroke, heart attack or other life-threatening conditions. This will ensure that staff in our control rooms and out on the road can be available for patients who need our help immediately."
The service has also said people can assist them by making their own way to the hospital or an urgent treatment centre if they are able to do so.
People should also get their vaccinations and make use of local pharmacists for advice and treatment for common winter ailments before they become more serious.
Paul added: "Thanks to the efforts of our recruitment and training teams, we now have more call handlers and clinicians, including GPs, working in our NHS 111 service and have seen average call answer times reduce from a high of around 40 minutes last winter to just over two minutes in September.
"NHS 111 should be used by all patients who have an urgent medical need, rather than calling 999 or going to your local A&E. Whether you're using the online assessment or the telephone, you just need to answer the same few questions about your main symptoms to get the right information or advice, and if needed a nurse or GP will call you back."