A rat bite, a broken toe nail and a mother who wanted an escort home are among the latest ‘emergency’ calls received by the region’s ambulance service.
New figures, released today, reveal the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) received 312 hoax calls between April and December last year, diverting time away from genuine emergencies.
They included a man who was bitten by a rat the day before and was advised to go to his GP, a man who had broken his toe nail and a woman who wanted an escort home so she could breastfeed because there was too much traffic.
People in Essex were responsible for making 74 of the hoax calls, the highest in the region, while 72 were received from Cambridgeshire and 35 from Suffolk.
Gary Morgan, deputy director of service delivery for emergency operations centres (EOC), said: “It is extremely disappointing that people continue to call 999 for inappropriate reasons as these 999 calls have the potential to divert attention away from real emergencies.
“We’d urge the public to remember that the ambulance service is for emergencies such as cardiac arrests, patients with chest pain and breathing difficulties, unconsciousness, strokes, trauma, choking and severe allergic reactions.
“Please consider the use of other services such as your local pharmacy, GP or by calling 111 if it isn’t an emergency.”
The calls are being highlighted as part of EOC takeover week which aims to shine a light on the important work carried out by emergency operations staff and the ongoing It’s Your Call campaign which aims to encourage people to think twice before calling 999.
Last year the Trust revealed it had received 1,144 hoax calls from April 2014 to March 2016, 320 from Essex, 190 from Cambridgeshire and 153 from Suffolk.
Those included a drowning goldfish, an injured cat, a dead squirrel and a drunk man wanting a taxi.
It’s Your Call was launched two years ago to inform and educate people on how 999 calls are handled and prioritised so that in the event of a medical problem, they feel better equipped to know what to do.
For more details, go to www.eastamb.nhs.uk/your-service/campaigns.