Waiting times for ambulances in Penarth have never been worse

An ambulance like this was demanded by an anonymous Penarth man with a sweet tooth

A Penarth man’s 999 call to the Welsh Ambulance Service has come top of the list of bizarre calls  to the Welsh Ambulance Service over the past year.

The man – who hasn’t been named – had apparently been eating a lot of chocolate and told the operator he felt a bit sick. He wanted an ambulance crew staffed by two paramedics to call around to his home to check him over.

The now-notorious call – made in December last year –  has topped the list of the curious calls from members of the public.

Other calls included:-

  •  A woman whose hamster bit her fingers (Cardiff, December 2015)
  • A man who poked himself in the eye with a pair of glasses (Cardiff, November 2015)
  • A woman with the back of her earring stuck in her ear (Pentre, January 2016)
  • A man feeling anxious after giving up smoking (Maesteg, May 2015)

Richard Lee, of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “Calling an ambulance when you do not require one may delay our response to save a life, or reach someone having a heart attack or a stroke. While some of the inappropriate calls we’ve highlighted may make people smile, the effects on patients waiting for ambulances in a real emergency are not funny at all.”

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  1. Elizabeth McCarthy says:

    They may be minor/bizarre complaints – but doesn’t this breach confidentiality? Who is running the emergency services answer line? The Daily Star?

    I am more concerned that it is so difficult to get medical advice that people feel driven to this. NHS Direct, for example, is really awful…it takes ages to get through, and you have to wait an hour for a tick boxing nurse to advise you to go to A and E just to cover themselves.

    I have also had occasion to ring an ambulance where you find yourself answering a lengthy questionnaire of irrelevant questions from someone who sounds very bored – whilst looking after someone who is in a state of acute, potentially life-threatening illness. That is more bizarre…

    Why don’t they concentrate on their own poor record rather than blaming an handful of people clearly suffering from severe anxiety – which is actually a medical condition.

  2. AK says:

    Of course it doesn’t breach confidentiality – it does not actually identlfy who the idiots are !

    • Elizabeth McCarthy says:

      I expect he does. He contributes to an NHS who laugh at him. There isn’t a person in the Vale who doesn’t know that our local hospital emergency services are the biggest joke going. Try getting from Barry Island to the Heath in an ’emergency’, Try getting an ambulance – you’ll most likely get a well meaning guy in a car. Try asking a woman on phone if she wouldn’t mind hurrying up a bit because a call about a sudden head injury doers not require a full run down of the persons medical history and tick boxing of entirely unrelated possible symptoms – you just need an ambulance…not assessment to see if you are an ‘idiot’ or not…

      If you went in to hospital with something other people considered bizarre because you were anxious – would you want it printed on the net? I think the bigger problems are – how difficult to it is to access speedy advice and how ready the staff are to gas about your ailments.

      I expect there is more to it anyway – I have read the background to other tabloid style exposes on this issue and finding that it wasn’t as described at all.

      Chocolate can make you ill – if you eat enough of it or are allergic to it you could be violently sick.

      It just comes off as a ropey, unprofessional service diverting attention to the odd inappropriate call.

  3. Christopher David says:

    Ms McCarthy you may make some good points (confidentiality isn’t one- they should be publicly named) but to defend these yes idiots is indefensible. They should be heavily fined. Just like the idiots that block up the doctors for free aspirin at al.

  4. Frank Evans says:

    I agree they should not release where the sad individual came from. It’s a bit like the police fly on the wall dramas only thick people sign the TV production companies release from.

  5. AK says:

    That well meaning guy in the car is a well trained Community First Responder – who trains, and responds unpaid and in his own time, using his own fuel in his own car, after a full day at his paid employment or on his day off.

    • Elizabeth McCarthy says:

      Yes – he may well be – and I’m not criticising him/her. It is the service offered I take issue with. If NHS Direct worked more efficiently then people may not make these calls. If seeing a doctor at your local surgery was easier – they make not make these calls. If you cannot drive and you have to get yourself to Barry to see an out of hours doctor and you are worried – what do you do? You’ve got to be pretty anxious to face the seven hour wait in A and E to see the sole doctor not available overnight and how do you get to the Heath?

      I think the local operation resembles an outback operation with people needing medical treatment considered a nuisance. I’ve seen ill children offloaded from some well meaning persons van outside A and E just to get them there and people borrowing £25 to get a taxi or choosing whether it is worth paying £20 by taxi to get yourself to Barry and then another £25 to get over to the Heath if they send you there – because if you have children, for example – you have to do something about it.

      I think this is the tip of the iceberg of the complacent, wealthy middle class seeing it from their point of view. I’ve been told many times that some people go to A and E out of frustration because they cannot get advice or are told to go. Some, obviously, are going to call an ambulance. Wouldn’t it be better to look at the causes rather the extreme outcomes?

      Of course, these people are not medically trained. How many of us have experienced a minor ailment that turned out to be something more serious?

      At the very least there should be an A and E department at Llandough and a minor injuries department if possible. I hesitate to suggest that seeing a doctor at every local surgery to sort out minor queries should be prioritised as GPs not being bothered outside of surgery hours is an issue that has been firmly stamped out by the GPs themselves…

      Unfortunately NHS Direct does not work. I don’t remember this being a major problem when there was a genuinely local out of hours doctor available and not someone on the end of the phone who is a nurse trained to troubleshoot from a hilariously bizarre list of queries.

      These are just ideas you pick up after being a parent for 25 years in the outback…I mean… the Vale of Glamorgan.

      • Laura says:

        There actually is a minor injuries department at Barry Hospital AND a Medical Emergency Admissions Unit at Llandough. It’s not very fair to criticise a service when you don’t actually know or understand what that service provides.

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