Ambulances are ‘used like taxis’ by 800 callers

21/04/10 News'Police and ambulance crews attend an incident at Swan Court on Swan Hill Road..'101632c

21/04/10 News'Police and ambulance crews attend an incident at Swan Court on Swan Hill Road..'101632c

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Every five minutes.

That’s how often an ambulance was called out in North Yorkshire this weekend, with two sent each hour in Scarborough, amid claims that the service is being clogged up by non-emergency call-outs.

“Some people are choosing to use the ambulance service like a taxi service to hospital,” said an NHS source.

“In many, many cases I encounter in A&E, people could have made their own way to hospital instead.

“This blocks up the system for people having real emergencies.”

The claims come as exclusive figures obtained by The Scarborough News show that across North Yorkshire, more than 800 ambulances were called for over the Halloween weekend. There were 138 ambulances called for in Scarborough and Ryedale alone between Friday and Sunday.

One paramedic told us: “I can’t remember a weekend like it.

“But the problem is many of the calls I attended just didn’t need an ambulance.

“People are often being given bad advice over the phone to go to hospital when they need to often just see a GP on a Monday.”

The Yorkshire Ambulance Trust, which supplied the figures, admitted there had been a sizeable spike in the number of “red” 999 calls on Saturday night and Sunday morning in what was a “busy” weekend for it’s crews.

The red calls are for those who are the most severely injured or seriously ill.

The service wouldn’t say if the increase was down to Halloween, which drew huge crowds of revellers into town centres across the region.

It wasn’t attributed as a reason in other regions, such as the North East, where there was also a surge in call-outs.

A trust spokesperson said: “It’s important to remind people that they should use our emergency service wisely so that we keep ambulances available for those patients who need life-saving help.

“We always prioritise our ambulances for patients who are most in need of our help and during busy times those people with less serious illnesses or injuries will inevitably wait longer for assistance.”

What do you think? Email ian.johnson@jpress.co.uk