999 Misuse costs lives

We are a lifeline

Would you know when you to call 999? And when to ring 111?

40% of the 999 calls we receive are from patients who do not need to go to hospital. An ambulance attending a patient who could have used more appropriate healthcare services is not available to go to a person in a life-threatening emergency.

Just think – your life, or the life of someone you care about, could be put at risk.

On average, there is only one ambulance per 23,000 people during the day, and one per 35,000 people at night available in our region. So, make sure you need us before you call.

To help you understand when you should call us or use an alternative healthcare provider, please consider the following.

For medical emergencies, such as:

  • Chest pain
  • Severe breathing difficulty
  • Severe blood loss
  • Choking
  • Blacking out

Dial 999 immediately

For other illnesses and injuries:

  • Call 111 for advice, alternatively visit the NHS Choices website
  • Contact your GP or out-of-hours GP service for other illnesses
  • Seek advice from your pharmacist for self-care
  • Make your own way to your local A&E, minor injuries unit or walk-in centre for minor injuries

Our attached Right Care leaflet will help you make the right decision.

Watch our video

999 Misuse Costs Lives’ campaign

The Trust’s ‘999 Misuse Costs Lives’ campaign was launched in January 2012 in response to SCAS receiving 1,235 hoax calls and many more inappropriate calls during 2011. It is designed to raise awareness of appropriate use of the ambulance service, to encourage people to access the service appropriately and to reduce inappropriate demand on, and misuse of the ambulance service.

The campaign includes a viral video entitled ‘999 South Central – Misuse Costs Lives’ hosted by YouTube. This video and a further viral video on the trust’s Crews’ Views have received in excess of 70,000 hits.

The campaign is supported through Twitter @SCAS999 and by a pro-active media campaign in the local, regional and national media.

The campaign won the following awards in 2012:

  • International Visual Communications (IVCA) Bronze Award – Best Digital Communications category
  • Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) Best of Health Awards Silver Award (Consumer Film) and Bronze Award (Mixed Media) categories
  • Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) PRide Award (Silver) – Thames Valley and Chiltern Region (Healthcare category)
  • Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) PRide Award (Gold) – Wessex and Channel Islands Region (Healthcare category)
  • UK Social Media Communications Awards – Public Sector category.

In addition the campaign was shortlisted in:

  • 2012 UK Public Sector Communications Awards – Low Budget Campaign of the Year, Integrated Communications Campaign of the Year and Best Use of Video categories.

By increasing awareness that ‘999 Misuse Costs Lives’, this campaign aims to help the public understand what constitutes a medical emergency requiring a 999 response and highlights that there are a range of other health service options available to them if an incident is not a medical emergency.

Watch the 999 Misuse costs lives video