Do I Need to Call an Ambulance?

We often hear about ambulances taking forever to get to an incident, and we often jump to conclusions and say it’s the ambulances fault, but is it?

So what is happening

In the last few years, there has been a rise in calling an ambulance for non – emergency use and I have heard this can be because someone cannot get a GPs appointment so thinking a trip in an ambulance to the hospital will get them seen by a doctor sooner, not unless its life threatening they could be in for a long wait and because of this A&E departments are getting clogged up and ambulances are backing up at the hospital because they are in a queue to drop off people who genuinely need their services.

An incident I heard recently was a lady called the ambulance service stating her husband was having difficulty breathing, only to arrive on the scene in under 15 minutes to find the ladies husband had disappeared, when they asked where he was she stated that he was not expecting you so quick so popped down the shop to buy some cigarettes.

Because they were on the scene that tied them up for a good 30 minutes checking him over and he was absolutely fine.

This is very time consuming for the ambulance service and this is becoming more commonplace now because waiting times are getting longer to see the GP, so you have to ask ‘Do I really need to call an ambulance.

Then there are the hoax callers

Then you have the hoax calls and luckily these are quite rare, so I am told, but read an article recently that some people are habitual hoaxes and call the ambulance service several times a day.

They know what to say to the call handler to get up to the top of the list and they say things such as I have chest pains and having difficulty breathing and this triggers a level 1 response.

I often wonder what goes through a hoaxer’s head, just imagine a child in need of a paramedic because the child is choking, or someone has had an accident and bleeding badly and need urgent assistance and this hoaxer has tied up vital resources so they can get a thrill of seeing ‘blue lights’ racing up there street.

It really makes my blood boil, and do they need to call an ambulance? NO, but may be suffering from mental health or social issues and because funding is virtually non-existent for these services, they cannot source the help they may need.

Why has this been happening?

Over the last 8 years or so we have had some serious cutbacks in an attempt by the government to balance the books and to bring the country out of austerity.

But this has to lead to cutbacks in social care and mental health too and many social care and mental health departments only work 9 – 5 because of staff shortages and they have huge waiting lists for the people who need their services, so the downward spiral starts.

This then puts pressure on the ambulance and police service to try and help these people who have social issues or mental health issues, and then they get taken to A&E so slowing that down because what staff they have who could help only work 9 – 5 because of cutbacks.

We will always have people calling for an ambulance and in most cases, an ambulance is probably required to help someone having a really bad day. BUT equally, we will also get people calling an ambulance because they cannot get a GP appointment for a couple of weeks thinking they will go to the front of the queue but very rarely do not unless its life threatening of course.

So until this is looked at and funding is placed in the areas such as mental health, social care issues, more GPs, this will fall on the A&E departments which are at breaking point, Ambulance services, Police services, and charities who provide these services.

So, do we need to call an ambulance? if it’s life-threatening YES.


We will always have people who will abuse the ambulance service and this will continue till the government sorts its funding out and how the funding is spent to bring the NHS and associated services to be the envy of the world again as it once was. But in the meantime, perhaps more people learning first aid skills would help lower the non-emergency call outs for the ambulance service.

On our work based first aid courses such as Emergency first aid at work, First aid at work, our delegates understand when an ambulance should be called or when getting them seen at a walk-in centre or GPs surgery would better suit the casualty.