From Cuts to Cramp - Patients Still Waste Time with 999 Calls; and Many Still Book GP Appointments They Don't Keep

Article excerpt

Byline: Greg Tindle Health Correspondent

PATIENTS aredialling 999 for ambulances for injuries as trivial as paper cuts and leg cramps.

Paramedics working in Cardiff have revealed a catalogue of unnecessary 999 calls which have taken ambulances off the street.

Details of the calls comes as the Echo understands that Health Minister Edwina Hart is looking into introducing a "cost system" for patients who waste GP appointments and the Welsh Ambulance Service's time.

She is also considering possibly publishing a leaflet which explains the costs of missing GP appointments and using the ambulance service unnecessarily.

It costs in the region of pounds 376 every time an ambulance answers an emergency 999 call. But Cardiff paramedics say they are often called out to patients demanding to be taken to hospital even though there is nothing wrong with them.

Examples include a patient who dialled 999 after suffering a paper cut; a man who called for anambulance to ask paramedics to rub creamon his back; a woman who had been told byher GP that she had a bug and demanded to be taken to hospital and a man who dialled 999 after stepping on a "foreign" bee in the early hours of the morning, but had no allergic reaction.

One paramedic told the Echo he had responded to an early morning 999 call from a man suffering from cramp in his leg who lived just yards from the University Hospital of Wales. …