DIALLING 999 for a cut finger or toothache won’t lead to an A&E queue jump, but could result in someone’s death, the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) have warned.

“Call an ambulance for the wrong reason and someone could die” is the hard-hitting message of a fresh appeal to prevent abuse of the 999 emergency service this winter.

As festivities begin and the temperature drops, the number of calls for ambulance assistance usually increases significantly.

While many of these requests are for patients whose lives are in danger, a large proportion are for patients with non-urgent conditions where alternative care would be more appropriate.

Vince Larvin, assistant director of A&E Operations for North Yorkshire, said: “Inappropriate calls are a big problem for the ambulance service. We are talking about people calling for an ambulance for minor ailments such as earache, cut finger and toothache.

“While we’re dealing with calls of this nature we might not be able to get to people who urgently need our help, and this can put the lives of other patients at risk.

“Jumping the queue at hospital emergency departments is believed to be a motive for many 999 calls. However, patients are treated at hospital according to the urgency of their medical need, regardless of how they made their way to hospital.”

YAS urges people to use services such as NHS Direct, GPs or pharmacists for non-emergency help.

“We ask that people only call 999 for an ambulance in a medical emergency when it is obvious that you or another person has a serious or life-threatening illness or injury and needs time-critical help,” said Mr Larvin.