AMBULANCE chiefs fear they could be overstretched over the Easter holiday because of people making unnecessary 999 calls.

In a bid to prevent their life-saving service coming under pressure they are appealing for people to think carefully and call wisely.

Last year the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust experienced a significant increase in 999 calls for emergency assistance and, coupled with the warm weather which is set to continue, they anticipate that this year they will be kept just as busy.

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Now they are urging people with minor ailments to consider the variety of other healthcare services available to them to ensure emergency resources are available for those who need them most.

Vince Larvin, assistant director in North Yorkshire, said: “The high volume of calls we traditionally receive during the bank holiday periods puts the service under increased strain and makes it harder for us to ensure we can get to all patients quickly.

“Our staff often respond to patients who have reported a serious condition only to find they have a minor illness or injury which would have been more appropriately dealt with by NHS Direct, a local pharmacist, a GP or a minor injuries unit and this could delay us getting to someone with a more serious or life-threatening condition.”

Members of the public should only call 999 in a medical emergency when it is obvious that they or another person has a serious or life-threatening illness or injury and needs time-critical help.