KFC 999 complaint prompts NHS campaign

PUBLISHED: 21:00 17 October 2011

Unnecessary calls cost thousands

Unnecessary calls cost thousands

Archant

A WESTON man who rang 999 to complain about the quality of his KFC meal has prompted NHS North Somerset to launch a campaign against unnecessary calls to the emergency services.

Gareth Long, of Alfred Street, was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to pay £85 court costs back in July for dialling 999 unnecessarily.

And so serious is the problem of non-emergency calls that NHS North Somerset believe it is costing them thousands of pounds a year.

A spokesman for the trust said Weston General Hospital was always there for those in genuine need but called on people to be sensible and think whether a GP or pharmacist would better suit their needs.

Alan Lawler, associate director of commissioner for the trust, said cutting down unnecessary hospital visits would save money currently wasted and could help fund improving facilities or staffing numbers.

He said: “More than fifty thousand people from North Somerset went to A&E Departments last year. This cost NHS North Somerset alone £4.2 million - that’s over £10,000 every day. One in four of these people could have treated themselves or used other local healthcare services. “

In a nationwide survey it revealed one in 10 people had phoned for an ambulance for minor ailments such as a small burn or a stubbed toe.

Mr Lawler said: “We urge patients with minor illnesses and injuries such as coughs and colds to consider other healthcare options before calling 999.

“Many people think arriving at an emergency department in an ambulance means they will be seen more quickly, but that is not the case.”

For non-emergency treatment, patients are urged to ring the out of hours GP service number on 0845 1210235.

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