Don't call 999 unless it's life-threatening, warn health chiefs

Dr Cliff Richards

Dr Cliff Richards

First published in Runcorn and Widnes World: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

HEALTH chiefs are urging Halton residents to help them manage high demands for services over the festive period.

Hospital and ambulance crews have dealt with a sharp rise in life threatening 999 calls.

As the last weekend before Christmas approaches and the last pay day before the festivities, NHS teams are concerned about the potential added pressures.

Runcorn GP Dr Cliff Richards, and chairman of Halton Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We have plans in place to ensure that everyone who needs emergency care can get it as quickly as possible.

“But we need your help. Unless it is a life-threatening or serious emergency, stay away from A&E and don’t call 999.”

Across Cheshire and Merseyside, the number of life and death ambulance responses is increasing each month.

There were an average of 331 per day in October, 345 per day in November and 367 per day up to 18 December.

The number of vulnerable people being admitted to hospital as emergency cases is increasing as a result of the cold weather causing more respiratory problems, heart attacks and strokes.

Norovirus is getting into hospitals and reducing the number of beds available.

Dr Richards added: “It’s widely known that one in five people goes to A&E even when they know they don’t need to be there. Please don’t be one of them.

“There are other places you can go to for help with non-urgent health problems, such as your local high street pharmacy or Widnes Walk-in Centre.

“Advice on home treatments for common illnesses such as upset stomachs, colds and flu and minor aches and sprains is available on the NHS Choices website.”

Full details of all local NHS services, including Christmas and New Year opening hours, are available online at

For help with choosing the right health option for you, visit Always start with self-care and work through the list to find the most appropriate course of action.

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