AN appeal has been issued to help safeguard the region’s ambulance service for those in need of time-critical, life-saving help over the busy festive period.

This week the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust has launched its #ChristmasWish campaign which features messages from staff about how the public can help to ease pressures on the service which is facing unprecedented demand this winter.

Over the three-week Christmas period, from December 16, the Trust predicts that it will deal with more than 70,000 calls.

On the busiest days – Friday December 20, Saturday December 28 and and January 1 and 2 – the service is expects to receive an average of one 999 call every 30 seconds.

While there are a range of measures in place to help cope with the surge in demand, members of the public have a key role to play to ensure they use the service responsibly.

Nick Smith, director of Operations for Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said: “Alongside all other UK ambulance services, we have seen a significant increase in demand since October and this has been building into November and December, including more serious types of calls often related to breathing problems in the young and elderly.

“We are currently planning for a further increase of 10 per cent across the festive period which means we will have over 300 ambulances in operation on specific days and are taking numerous other measures.

“However, we need the public to know when to call 999 and when another NHS service is more appropriate.

“If someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk, you should call 999 immediately. If not, please consider other options.”

Genuine 999 calls can include chest pain, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, severe loss of blood, heart attack, stroke and major trauma.

For other illnesses and injuries, residents are urged to consider other more appropriate healthcare services such as pharmacists, GPs and the NHS 111 number.