By Ian Dipple Monday 17 December 2012 Updated: 18/12 15:35
ALMOST 3,000 calls were made to West Midlands Ambulance Service in just one night as thousands of people headed out to celebrate the festive season.
Last Friday (December 14) - or Mad Friday as it has been dubbed - was the busiest day the service has experienced so far this year.
The service had anticipated the increase and had made 20 per cent more ambulances than normal available at peak times.
But Craig Cooke, assistant chief ambulance officer for the Trust, urged festive shoppers and party-goers to take care and for residents to only call 999 if it was absolutely necessary.
"We are not in the business of spoiling anyone’s fun during the most enjoyable time of the year. However, we ask the public to be extra careful as we don’t want your lasting memory of this weekend to be the back of an ambulance or A&E," he said.
"Many people who dial 999 could treat themselves at home, access help or advice from NHS Direct either online or over the phone. Equally, people should consider taking themselves to an NHS walk-in centre, pharmacist or a minor injuries unit.
"This would leave the ambulance service to deal with life threatening illness and injury such heart conditions, strokes, breathing difficulties and excessive blood loss."
The number of people going in to the A&E department at the Alexandra Hospital over Friday, Saturday and Sunday was also up five per cent. There were 451 people seen compared to an average 430 over the three days.
Stewart Messer, chief operating officer for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said extra medical and nursing staff had been made available and beds had been opened to cope with the anticipated surge in demand.
"We continue to ask everyone to choose the right service for their condition and help us to make sure emergency treatment is available to those that need urgent medical care in the event of a serious injury or critical illness. Please remember that A&E is only for emergencies."
Residents with issues such as scrapes, sprains, wounds, small burns and broken bones are being urged, particularly over the Christmas period, to attend the Minor Injuries Unit at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bromsgrove which is equipped to deal with lesser problems.
As well as taking the strain off A&E staff, people will be seen faster in an MIU as last month's waiting time was just over half an hour.
The Bromsgrove MIU is open from 8am until 8pm - with the last appointment at 7.30pm - Monday to Friday and 12pm to 8pm on Saturday and Sunday. Call 01527 488058 for more information.
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