A BLISTER, bruised bottom and swallowing a false nail are just some of the unnecessary reasons Boltonians have been calling for an ambulance.
The North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) has revealed trivial and, even, bizarre calls people in the borough made to 999 last year.
While ambulances were not sent to the calls, the trust says they still needed to be answered, which meant a member of staff in one of its three call centres had to take time to ask questions and, therefore, were unable unable to answer genuine emergency calls.
The trust hopes the list will discourage others from rushing to dial 999 and consider seeking help from a GP or pharmacy instead.
Some of the minor calls received from the Bolton area in 2016 include:
Being bitten by beetle the day before
Swallowing a false nail
Unable to sleep
Cutting finger on a staple
Falling down stairs 10 days ago
Punching a wall a few days earlier
Lump on top of buttock
Standing on a rusty nail
Unable to move thumb
Knocking shoulder on door
Bleeding nose piercing
Dropped wine glass on foot more than 12 hours ago
Pat McFadden, NWAS interim head of service for Greater Manchester, said: "We understand that some people genuinely do not know who else to call, but 999 shouldn’t be the default number.
"It is for emergencies, injuries and conditions that need our urgent help and while we are explaining this to people who have called in with minor complaints, there is someone waiting for their call to be answered.
"999 isn’t the number to call if you can’t get a GP appointment or you haven’t got anyone to drive you to a hospital."
On average, NWAS answers 4,000 emergency calls every day and with the ever-increasing rise in the most life-threatening calls, it is vital that the 999 number is only used in genuine emergencies.
To prevent unnecessary trips to hospital, the trust has strengthened its Hear and Treat and See and Treat care pathways, which in 2016 resulted in a 42 per cent drop in the number of people requesting ambulances.
Hear and Treat refers patients to the urgent care desk within the emergency operations control for further, more in-depth triage by a senior paramedic.
See and Treat is when on-scene treatment is given to the patient, or alternative community care is sought to better match the patient’s condition.
Only the most serious 999 calls will receive a fast ambulance response.
Those with minor injuries are likely to find it quicker and more convenient to make their own way to hospital or to use alternatives such as pharmacies, GPs, walk-in centres or self-care.
People are also advised to dial the non-emergency 111 which offers self-care advice and referrals to local services.
Mr McFadden added: "We would ask that if your case isn’t a medical emergency, that you try 111 first so your call doesn’t prevent a life-threatening one getting through."
NWAS receives more than one million emergency calls each year from across the North West.