Note: Please bear in mind that whilst this topic does canvass opinions, it is not a fight club. You may disagree with other posters but we do ask you please to stick to our Talk Guidelines and to be civil. We don't allow personal attacks or troll-hunting. Do please report any. Thanks, MNHQ.

to think they should charge for ways ambulance time?

(86 Posts)
Softlysoftly Thu 11-Apr-13 15:38:55

Or would it prevent genuinely in need people from calling them?

At OOH drs last night (dd2 is v poorly just discharged on tuesday). And the woman in the queue in front was bitching and whining that the ambulance she called on 999 hasn't turned up and after 50 minutes they called and said they were over busy and they would pay for her taxi instead hmm.

This wasn't good enough so she'd walked in instead but was pissed off she had to a) wait b) the receptionist had the gall to ask if she'd canceled the ambo (she hadnt apparently why fucking should she when they'd mucked her about) shock.

She was in and out the drs in a flash, seriously nothing wrong with her.

I think she should have been charged for the ambulance she wasted aibu?

She walked in and didn't get the ambulance, so how was it wasted? YABU.

LadyVoldemort Thu 11-Apr-13 15:49:02

But an ambulance didn't get sent to her though so Yabu.

Although I do think something should be put in place for time wasters .

angelos02 Thu 11-Apr-13 15:52:58

If she was well enough to walk, why on earth would she need an ambulance? Am I missing something about the use of ambulance?

Pancakeflipper Thu 11-Apr-13 15:54:39

I thought they once introduced that?

About 15yrs ago I had an accident and in my hazy freaked out state was telling the ambulance team to go away as I didn't want invoicing for a wasted call. They informed me I wasn't wasting their time that I was an emergency. I havent heard of it in recent years though and how would they enforce payment?

StuntGirl Thu 11-Apr-13 15:54:40

Yup I think time wasters should be charged/fined. It's a vital service which does NOT have infinite resources. Some people are entitled cunts.

However, putting in such a system would probably cost more money, so its a bit catch 22.

A lot of older people don't phone ambulances when they need them because they're afraid of wasting their time, I think knowing they could also be charged would only make it worse. So I'm really unsure about charging people.

Softlysoftly Thu 11-Apr-13 15:59:10

She refused the taxi insinsted she wanted an ambo but then walked in without notifying them so her call for 1 would still be active in the q. I have no idea if they sent it or the receptionist managed to then cancel it.

She shouldn't have called one in the first place!

Softlysoftly Thu 11-Apr-13 15:59:59

Gruffalo that would be my only concern.

Pancakeflipper Thu 11-Apr-13 16:04:27

Good point Gruffalo, you are obviously not all warts and purple prickles but also smart.

sydlexic Thu 11-Apr-13 16:07:23

I have known of people being charged.

Often when the elderly have appointments the hospital sends an ambulance to collect them, it goes around picking up several people on the way. I do think this ambulance being used like a taxi confuses the old folk as to the idea of an ambulance being for emergency only.

Airwalk79 Thu 11-Apr-13 16:11:54

My dh is a paramedic, you would not believe some of the jobs he gets sent on.

People who ring in saying chest pain, knowing that will get them there quick, " no mate,just said that then they didn't make me wait. its me leg, been hurting a while what do you rekon it is, "

He got asked to change a lightbulb, as apparently if the guy did it himself he might fall then he would need the ambulance wouldent he?

The crews used to be Abel to tell them to go to their docs or take themselves to a an e etc, not there's that much trouble caused if you so much and raise a eyebrow that they have to pussyfoot around theose idiots!

Often dh comes in from a 12 hour shift that's turned into 14, and says that he hasn't been back for a brew or a wee all day. And he wouldent mind that, but he will also not have been to even one genuine patient!

Airwalk79 Thu 11-Apr-13 16:12:41

Sorry for the rant, can you tell it's a touchy subject!

Cheers Pancake. grin

My DM works/worked in various hospitals and care homes with elderly people and seen a lot of people admitted because they've refused to go in for treatment when a problem was small.

She once looked after an elderly woman who'd spent several days walking around with a prolapsed bowel because she didn't want to worry anyone. sad

soverylucky Thu 11-Apr-13 16:16:14

I have head of people who have used them to get to hospital to have a baby be charged. I think that there should be a charge - they are not a taxi service but I agree with pp who said that some people may not ring even when they need one because they are worried that it may be nothing and charged for it. I needed to call an ambulance once - was for a relative. I delayed and delayed calling thinking that I was being silly and instead waited for the out of hours gp to come round (this was in the old days when they did this sort of thing) while I was waiting the relative died. I should have just called the ambulance.

clam Thu 11-Apr-13 16:18:03

We called an ambulance for me when I fell down the stairs recently, although we hummed and haahed a bit first, in case the leg (subsequently found to be broken in 3 places and requiring surgery and a week's stay in hospital) stopped hurting a bit and I could hop to the car.
The paramedics couldn't believe we'd even hesitated and said they've been called on to find the TV remote control for people before now! I can only imagine (or hope?) that those sorts of cases are perhaps people with mental health issues and not just people being bastards stupid.

WestieMamma Thu 11-Apr-13 16:44:24

Reminds me of my elderly dad Gruffalo. He went to the dr's because he'd had indigestion all day and he couldn't take it anymore. The dr said he was in fact having a heart attack. My dad told him not to ring for an ambulance as he had the car outside and could drive himself, rather than bothering the ambulance people who had proper emergencies to deal with hmm.

ChunkyPickle Thu 11-Apr-13 16:57:33

We got sent to hospital in an ambulance from the GPs because what I thought was a bad cold was a nasty chest infection (in my DS) - Hospital was a 20 minute drive away, my car was in the carpark, but they insisted.

I felt a bit of a fraud, and would never have called one myself, but medical professionals disagreed - it reset my 'call an ambulance' and 'get to Casualty' meters quite a bit!

CloudsAndTrees Thu 11-Apr-13 17:32:59


People should definitely be charged for time wasting. I don't think there's any reason why it should put people off phoning if they are genuinely worried, if they are unsure they can always ring the NHS direct thing and get advice from them. People wouldn't be charged where they had real reason to worry, even if they didn't particularly need an ambulance. But they would be charged for lying over the phone and for asking for light bulbs to be changed.

StuntGirl Thu 11-Apr-13 18:19:47

Thing is, people don't get charged now and some people still don't call because they 'don't want to worry anyone'. Although I do agree that while I think in principle people should be charged for wasting time and resources that in practice it would be impossible to manage.

My uncle has mental health issues and frequently dials 999 for the most absurd reasons. The police officer told us they are obliged to attend every single call, even when it's obviously not an emergency. So it means when he calls demanding they go my elderly aunt with dementia and get £20 off her they have to attend just to check everyone's ok sad

And that's not even including the idiots airwalk mentioned!

maddening Thu 11-Apr-13 19:37:23

Surely they need to triage ambulances if they are misused - if you can't get an appointment at the gp without the receptionist deciding you are deserving then why don't they do this for ambulances?

youmaycallmeSSP Thu 11-Apr-13 19:52:45

I think the money used setting up a charge system would be put to better use on a public education program on when an ambulance should be called, when to go to A&E, when to ring NHS Direct, when to see the GP etc. The ambulances where I am have information like that on the side, something like unconscious, chest pains, or lots of blood = 999.

Catbiscuit Thu 11-Apr-13 19:54:35

I think a lot of people don't like to cause a bother, and a charge wouldn't help that.
When my eldest was a baby he was v unwell. He had a really high temp I couldn't get down and was fitting. I don't know why but I didn't even think to call an ambulance. I didn't want to cause a fuss. I ended up knocking on a neighbours door in tears to borrow money for a taxi. Ds ended up in hospital for several days.
I should really have called an ambulance I think. I have done twice since, it took that to think properly about when it is appropriate to use the service. I can see why older people might hesitate

mylittleponypinkypie Thu 11-Apr-13 19:59:30

I got told in some training once...
"If you see an incident and think "oh shit!" call 999"

EMUZ Thu 11-Apr-13 20:02:45

We do triage
But say someone rings up with a sore throat/weird feeling in their head/ear ache. You ask the question about pain "yeah yeah I've got some pain in my chest" ...
You see where this is going wink
I'm not saying much more but they are triaged, and people are referred to other services. Or say 111 tell them to make their own way to hospital because they need to be seen but they haven't got money for transport...
Doctors can also book ambulances for people to go in when they need to (not necessarily blue lighted)

EMUZ Thu 11-Apr-13 20:04:09

Personally I would love to see basic first aid compulsory in schools
V v simple stuff - cool water on a burn, pressure on bleeding, don't ram something in the mouth of someone fitting. And how to ring 999 as well

IneedAsockamnesty Thu 11-Apr-13 20:04:39

Its one of those weird ones.

I've had a situation where a guest in my house ( my ex) started clutching at his chest and throat gagging doing weird shit with his breath then passed out on the bathroom floor.

I phoned 999 in a panic explained what had happened they sent an ambulance but it turned out the fucked up twat was faking it in an attempt to manipulate me. And bugger all was wrong with him.

He looked and sounded convincing enough to a none HCP but given that it was me who called should I have been charged?

givemeaboost Thu 11-Apr-13 20:08:03

its a grayish area i think. I wouldnt call 999 for burns/broken bones etc as I would consider 999 for life-threatening things only, however I know many who do call for things such as broken bones, I think id be too embarrassed to!

Floggingmolly Thu 11-Apr-13 20:11:23

Who offered to pay for her taxi instead? Not the ambulance service, surely? shock

TeWiSavesTheDay Thu 11-Apr-13 20:14:08

We do have a problem with people not calling 999 as well I agree. For eg, burns broken bones - severe ones might well need an ambulance, and being bundled into a car might further injure the person.

I know I have always avoided Ambulances even when offered by hcp, and that's daft really.

I called 999 when DS slipped and badly gashed his head. I was worried I was wasting ambulance time, but the paramedics reassured me that I wasn't, and gave me a choice of hospital (30 minute drive either East or West!) Had I had friends in the area with a car / my own car, it would have been easier to drive to hospital, as obviously ambulances don't do return trips, but I still needed the ambulance at the scene.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 11-Apr-13 20:23:51

I work on a hospital ward.

I got a direct phone call from some poor frustrated woman the other week who was in lots of pain with constipation. She'd rung 111 and they'd sent an ambulance out to her. Paramedics had come and obviously said she didn't need an ambulance so she rang the hospital for advice.

I guess I don't know what she told the 111 person but she sounded very sensible so I was a bit baffled that the operator had sent an ambulance to her.

I also frequently take phone calls from people asking me to ring an ambulance for them as they're in early labour....I'm not talking about the people who think the birth is imminent. Try telling them to get a lift, get a taxi, etc. they never have any friends who can bring them and never have money for a taxi.

MsBella Thu 11-Apr-13 20:29:39

YABU, not everyone KNOWS what is time wasting and what isn't...

Don't call an ambulance for broken bones? Jeez! Have you ever broken a limb? I was lucky to make it to a phone to call an ambulance and needed morphine and my pressure bringing back up before I was able to be put on a trolley. Over 5 years later and my leg still isn't right.

I do agree though that there is too much waste of emergency resources. A proper programme of education would be a good way of going about it.

Gorjuss Thu 11-Apr-13 20:59:07

After ringing NHS direct for advice re assault on dh they decided to send ambulance, which dropped us at a&e where we were left waiting over 4 hours without seeing anyone. So decided to get taxi home. Would never dreamed of ringing ambulance in first place.

ReallyTired Thu 11-Apr-13 21:07:40

I think that fining people for wasting police time could deter callers who need medical help.

Sometimes ambulances are called by passers by when there is no serious injury. I was in a road accident where 2 ambulances with flashing lights turned up within 2 minutes of the accident happening. There was also two police cars and a mounted policeman at the scene. It was all a bit over the top as more than one person had dialed 999.

When I was 19 years old I was run over by a motor cyclist while riding a bike. I was very badly bruised and had a nastily sprained ankle. A paramedic checked me over to make sure I had no spinal injury before I got off the road. I was also taken to A and E to check for broken bones. I had got away with nothing but a sprain. The motor cyclist was completely uninjured.

Serenitysutton Thu 11-Apr-13 21:14:16

I don't really think its much of a solution- issuing a bill doesn't mean it will be paid, particularly I'd imagine by persistent offenders, vulnerable people, or people who just don't have the money-and then it just turns into another elxensive admin exercise to organise collection, raise billing, provide bad debt etc.

clam Thu 11-Apr-13 21:21:02

givemeaboost re: broken bones, there are degrees of break. As I said, we hesitated before ringing 999, as I felt it ought to be reserved for severed arteries and so on, but to be honest, we couldn't actually remember the non-emergency number. blush Dh started googling for it, at which point, as I was stuck halfway down the stairs unable to move a muscle without screaming in pain, I just yelled "ffs, dial 999!"
By the time the ambulance arrived (around 5 minutes!) I was passing out and needed an oxygen mask and gas and air before they could surround the leg with an inflatable cuff and lift me on to a stretcher.

So, yes, I did need an ambulance.

99problems Thu 11-Apr-13 21:38:22

This is so hard, my ds once stopped breathing for about 10 seconds, like he couldn't breathe - he had severe croupe - and even then I felt like I shouldn't ring an ambulance... Instead ran with him to car and drove him to hospital. I guess the point is many genuinely in need seem to be the people who wouldn't dream of calling one.

The one time I have rang an ambulance was after finding a man collapsed in the street, he was gasping 'epileptic'. Once paramedics turned up, they go "Oh hi Mark, good night tonight then? Get up, come on!" Up 'Mark' gets and climbs into ambulance, turns out he was the local piss head!

I watched a lotof '999 What's your emergency' though and it was so frustrating seeing all the drunks and time wasters, grr. I'm sure it said on that programme only 5% or so of population tend to use a&e? So it's typically the same people over and over.

ReallyTired Thu 11-Apr-13 21:42:40

I think a lot depends on what bone is broken. There is a difference between a hairline facture in a broken finger and a broken neck. A badly broken leg is a good reason for 999 as there can be major internal bleeding which can kill.

As far as burns go, a lot depends on the severity. I think 999 is for when you need help on the scene. (ie. to assess a potential spinal injury, oxygen needed or the person needs help out of the house) A paramedic is not a taxi driver and the clue is in the name.

ReallyTired Thu 11-Apr-13 21:45:09

99problems you may have saved Mark's life as he probably needed stomach pumping in the short term and needs long term pychiartic help.

I feel that people like Mark should be forcibliy made to accept pychiatric help (assuming its available) if they are repeatly being picked in an ambulance for being drunk/ self harm.

i've only had to call an ambulance to my house once... i'd been in with renal colic earlier that day (after being an emergency admission from OOH service) and been released.. not a good idea.

an hour after i got home another attack hit and i had to be taken straight back where i ended up staying for another 2 days blush

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

edam Thu 11-Apr-13 22:01:57

Not ambulances, but on a related topic, I once knew a GP who did out of hours. He told me the most grateful patient he'd ever had was a little old lady who was fairly easily sorted, but who mentioned her TV was on the blink. The GP used to be a TV repairman, so said he'd take a look, and was able to fix it. She was overcome with emotion about how brilliant he was and couldn't thank him enough. Only problem after that was every time the TV broke down, she'd call out of hours!

RevoltingPeasant Thu 11-Apr-13 22:06:35

Lunatic sad thanks

Sorry, but I think it's really irresponsible to tell people not to call an ambulance for broken bones. If someone breaks a leg or an ankle badly, how are they meant to get themselves to A&E? And if a broken bone is jolted it can make things much worse. Can you imagine the pain of two ends of broken bone rubbing together as you try to take a taxi to A&E?

ShadowStorm Thu 11-Apr-13 22:08:38

I think the danger with charging for wasting ambulance time, is that some people who have really serious problems and really do need an ambulance, may be put off calling for one.

givemeaboost - whether an ambulance is appropriate for burns / broken bones depends entirely on the extent of the burn and on the location and severity of the break.

There's many cases where an ambulance is entirely right and appropriate for taking burns victims and people with broken bones to A&E. Burns and broken bones can be life-threatening if they're severe enough.

Springforward Thu 11-Apr-13 22:17:15

Years ago some passing kids knocked our door to ask if we knew that there was someone lying down in our front garden. A quick look with a torch revealed a woman dressed for a night out, face down on the lawn, without a coat in February. We couldn't rouse her, so called for an ambulance, and the operator stayed on the line for a bit while we attempted to put her in the recovery position and covered her with a blanket.

Just as the ambulance turned up, she woke, stood up, and suddenly it was obvious that she was utterly trollied. Bless them, the ambulance men followed her as she wobbled off down the road, but I did feel foolish. However, if she'd not have woken she'd probably have been at risk of hypothermia. Never have been quite sure whether we wasted the ambulance's time that night....

youmaycallmeSSP Thu 11-Apr-13 22:22:23

sad Lunatic.

I feel as though I should know when to call an ambulance but there have been at least three situations I can think of when I should have done but didn't. Two involving my own DC not breathing or responding normally blush All three situations turned out fine in the end but it just goes to show how people are afraid of wasting paramedics' time.

WishIdbeenatigermum Thu 11-Apr-13 22:32:10

DD was blue lighted passed ou drunk age 13. sad
Of course we would have paid but the thought that her friends might have delayed calling because of a fee... sad

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Thu 11-Apr-13 22:33:19

I reluctantly called one for my blue-tinged daughter who couldn't string a sentence together a few months ago and it took 50 minutes to get to us. When it did finally arrive it was an out-of-area ambulance and I had to direct them to the hospital. We don't have enough of the things in this region and the areas they are asked to cover are huge and mostly rural. People who waste the ambulance service's time want taking out and shooting.

99problems Thu 11-Apr-13 23:04:46

Reallytired completely agree with you, sadly, I still see 'Mark' stumbling to and from the pub often now. Sadly, psychiatric support is a whole other kettle of fish and is facing even more cuts, it really is a worrying situation sad

edam Thu 11-Apr-13 23:21:37

It is far better to err on the side of caution and call an ambulance even if you suspect someone may be drunk. The person concerned may have a head injury, or be diabetic, or be suffering from other conditions that can be easily confused. Even if they are 'just' drunk, they are still at risk of choking on their own vomit, or hypothermia

edam Thu 11-Apr-13 23:21:59

... as spring points out.

Pancakeflipper Thu 11-Apr-13 23:26:33

I guess it works out cheaper in the long run to send an ambulance rather than be sued after an event when one wasn't sent and the patient really required one.

Oh so cynical for one so young...

ohmentalnessisme Thu 11-Apr-13 23:49:07

I think that the people who take the piss like that are not going to be bothered about a fine, in fact it will probably make the problem worse when they have the attitude that they are paying for it iyswim?

DoJo Fri 12-Apr-13 00:12:07

I have only called an ambulance once, and only then because I initially rang the pharmacy at my GPs and they said if I didn't promise to ring myself an ambulance they would! I still felt like a bit of a time water until the moment I saw the paramedic's face when I opened the door - he looked pretty shocked at the state of me and I suddenly realised why the pharmacist was insistent that I shouldn't drive myself to hospital.

manicinsomniac Fri 12-Apr-13 02:36:28

I think YABU. It's too hard to tell when you are panicking whether you should really be calling or not.

I have called an ambulance twice in my life and, arguably, I could have been fined both times if that was the system.

The first time was a crush injury to a colleague's hand. The pain and all the blood turned her faint and she couldn't stand. I am tiny and she is large so I couldn't assist her to the car and called the ambulance.

The second time was for my mum who was having an epileptic fit. I didn't recognise it at first, I thought she was having a heart attack. I was half way through the call when my sister shouted that there was blood coming out her mouth and it was only then that I twigged what was happening. By the time the ambulance arrived she had come round and was exhausted but with it. They checked her over but didn't take her to the hospital and probably didn't even need to see her.

I felt like a fraud both times but the first time I couldn't think of another way of accessing A and E and the second time I was in total blind panic.

ZebraOwl Fri 12-Apr-13 03:39:31

I in fact had a conversation about this very thing with the lovely paramedics who were called out to me after a complication of my disability made me quite dramatically unwell at a tube station earlier this week. (Apparently LU staff have a bit of a rep for being rather ambulance-happy: on both occasions I've had paramedics called out to a tube station for me the crews have been almost surprised to find someone who really DOES need an ambulance.)

The consensus amongst the paramedics (had a crew of three, one being a student) was charges for inappropriate call-outs would exacerbate the problem of people (especially elderly people) not calling for a much-needed ambulance because they Don't Want To Be A Bother. It'd probably make me even less likely to call an ambulance too - and I've frequently been told off for not calling an ambulance when needed, as well as having my frantic apologies for Wasting Time & Being A Bother squashed every time I've been well enough to be able to express them.

It is incredibly frustrating that so many people misuse the ambulance service. The number of times I've been a crew's first/only "proper" job of the day is genuinely frightening. People who've run out of painkillers/have a headache/have a cold/have cut themselves shaving/are feeling sick/have a sore throat/have been taking antibiotics for a day but aren't better yet/twisted their ankle a week ago & it's still sore/have prickly heat/are too tired to get the bus home...and all the rest. People who, on top of that, lie about symptoms to get themselves into Cat A... personally I think those symptoms should be induced in them. Well, ok, I don't really, but it is utterly loathsome-selfish-stupid behaviour.

I really can't understand how adults can fail to understand that calling an ambulance if you don't really need one could kill someone. Do they really not get that there are a finite number of ambulances & they cannot teleport, so the ambulance attending someone with a hangover who wants some neurofen but CBA to go to the shops cannot save the child who's gone into status asthmaticus?!

Do wonder if an awareness campaign might help: something similar to the ones about doing CPR. I seem to recall our PCT doing a direct mailing about local NHS services & how to use them, would be interesting to see if that correlated with a change service usage! I agree First Aid ought to be taught in schools - & think that should include being taught about when you do [not] need to call an ambulance, too. It would be good to hammer it home to people that Arriving By Ambulance Does Not Mean You Will Be Treated As A Priority.

It is, I think, part of a bigger picture of people wasting NHS time & resources. The number of people who don't attend their hospital appointments is staggering: I think they should introduce fines for that (unless you have a good reason for non-attendance eg sleeping through your appointment following a run of night-time seizures)! I'm pretty sure DNA figures would plummet if people had to fork out for not turning up!

pansyflimflam Fri 12-Apr-13 04:44:52

People who are feckless enough to call an ambulance for painkillers for hangovers etc will not be affected by an education campaign. These sorts of calls cannot be avoided as there are often substance abuse, MH, other issues behind this so a leaflet drop means nothing. For other nt affected by these issues who are just hard of thinking and selfish enough to not care so I think a degree of this inappropriate calls will always be an issue.

They do not charge because it is too expensive to administrate. You have to find out who the person is (in the case of drunks etc can you imagine how difficult this would be....) But charging is not workable, it is not because anyone cares about putting off people it is purely not workable financially. Like chasing health tourist for repayment for treatment - unless the debt is huge it just doesn't add up

ohmentalnessisme Fri 12-Apr-13 09:31:22

I think there should be fines for people who drive like arseholes and don't let ambulances past. I was really shocked one day driving through London when an ambulance with sirens on had to wait over 5 minutes in a queue of traffic because some ignorant shits wouldn't move out of the way. There was room for the cars in front to move out of the way but it would have meant them getting into the other lane so they just sat there shock

Trills Fri 12-Apr-13 09:42:49


Anything that could make someone think I don't want to call an ambulance because I can't afford it is a very bad thing.

There are people who feel entitled to an ambulance when there is not an emergency.

There are also people who Don't Want To Be A Bother.

We need better education, yes. We don't need fines or punishments, as these would negatively affect the second group as much as the first.

Kendodd Fri 12-Apr-13 09:52:31

No I don't think people should be charged.

I would put people off calling in a genuine emergency.

Similar situation, I (eventually) went to the doctor with a 'bad cold' to be told I had pneumonia and then got a telling off for not coming sooner.

Couple of years later, I went back to the doctor with very similar symptoms, hacking up sticky green slime, to be told I had a cold and really didn't need to see a doctor about it, implication being that I was wasting their time.

We are not the experts, how are we to make that judgement? What if we get it wrong?

Something does need to be done about the callers who have virtually nothing wrong with them, I don't think this is it though.

For what it's worth, in almost all cases I would just drive the person the hospital myself, it would probably be quicker.

ReallyTired Fri 12-Apr-13 10:09:41

An ambulance is only appriopiate when you actually need medical help on the scene. There are existing laws for punishing people who call out an ambulance to ask a paramedic to change a light bulb.

"Something does need to be done about the callers who have virtually nothing wrong with them, I don't think this is it though."

I don't want anyone punished for an honest mistake. There are times when there is nothing wrong with the person, but the only way to be sure is to have a medical person check them over.

It is a good use of a paramedics time to check over a little old lady who has slipped on the ice. It takes medical training to be sure that she is just badly bruised and not having a stroke. Distinguishing between a heart attack and the symptoms of anxiety requires medical skill as well.

I think there needs to be complusory pychiartic help/ training for repeat offenders. Maybe there can be a choice between attending a training course or recieving a caution from the police.

Norfolknway Fri 12-Apr-13 10:15:57

I did a peadiatric first aid course last year and the senior fire officer that led it told us that if you need an ambulance for a child, always say its chest pains so that they send a paramedic rather than an ambulance that might me ill-equipped to deal.

I was a little hmm, but could see what he meant.

Wincher Fri 12-Apr-13 11:48:11

I used to be a work first-aider and in our training we were told to call an ambulance for pretty much anything - I think it's something to do with employer liability insurance. I only had to do so once, when someone fainted - if we hadn't been at work I probably wouldn't have done so.

I was at a (non-work) meeting this week when we had to call an ambulance for an elderly person who was vomiting and fitting, and semi-unconscious. I was quite surprised that it took about 20 minutes for a first responder to arrive, and then the ambulance to take her into hospital was about an hour. But she was doing OK by then so I guess they had triaged her properly.

ReallyTired Fri 12-Apr-13 14:27:47

I wonder with smart phones whether there is a way of triaging someone via web cam or at least being able to talk through how to help someone before professional help arrives.

Longdistance Fri 12-Apr-13 14:34:37

Yanbu, what a waste of an ambulance.
If she could walk, she can get herself there, it's not a taxi service.
I however used them yesterday, as I broke my leg, badly, think of a foot swinging like a that needs an ambulance!

Chelvis Fri 12-Apr-13 14:45:38

I'd rather an ambulance got sent to catch a spider or find a remote than someone die for fear of charges, as frustrating as it is to be wasting money on the first set of idiots.

I know when I worked for a GP that it was always the people with papercuts or one episode of slight diarrhoea who would kick up a fuss and want emergency treament/an ambulance. Then you'd get some lovely old chap who would make no fuss and - only because I'd have a gut feeling that something was really wrong - I'd ask why they needed an appointment, and they would have chest pain shooting down their left arm or have had a 'funny turn' and be numb down one side. I know of several lovely old people, my beloved Grandma included, who have died because they didn't want to make a fuss or be 'a bother'.

Coffeenowplease Fri 12-Apr-13 14:53:55

I dont think it would work. There are situations where it isnt an emergency but people are frightened/unwell and need on the scene help anyway.

Eg. My friend fell down the stairs holding her 3 month old PFB. She wasnt hurt as such but was in such a state of panic that her baby might be hurt (and in a lot of pain - she also had an old leg injury that can be exacerbated severely by something small like tripping over so falling like that could have potentially really caused damage) that she called an ambulance. Who wouldnt in that situation. (I dont think she could walk unaided at this point btw)

I also nearly had to call 999 for a friend who took too many drugs - we were 17 and she made a huge mistake and was really ill - slipping in and out of consciousness. She never did it again after that and Id hate to think someone who is a grown woman with children now would not have deserved an ambulance because she made a mistake as a teenager. If we had been scared of a fine/not getting help I dont know. As it turned out she turned a corner about a minute later and started coming out of it but we were terrified and had 999 dialed and ready to press call it was so close.

MsBella Fri 12-Apr-13 14:57:36

With my first 2 dcs I rang my midwife who called an ambulance both times- nobody said I was wasting time and it was a normal labour, I could walk, wasn't dying etc

DrGarnettsEasterMixture Fri 12-Apr-13 15:19:18

Did you not have access to a car or a taxi, MsBella? Not being snarky, just interested, as everyone I know who had a normal labour made their own arrangements to get to the hospital.

FeijoaVodkaStat Fri 12-Apr-13 15:19:21

In Australia you are charged for ambulance call outs regardless of whether it's a genuine call or not. Thankfully ambulance insurance is very cheap and easy to get.

edam Sat 13-Apr-13 00:18:07

DrGarnetts, I have a letter from the chief executive of the trust where I gave birth instructing me to call an ambulance when I went into labour - because I'd complained about their parking charges! WTF? (That particular hospital didn't do a flat rate for women in labour as many do, you have to pay by the hour - IIRC ds cost us £80 in parking charges alone because no, actually, I was not going to call out an ambulance entirely unnecessarily. Luckily at the time this wasn't a massive problem for us, but for some people on tight budgets it could be really nasty. You can hardly stand around waiting for a night bus when you are in labour...)

Tinuviel Sat 13-Apr-13 02:48:44

Called 999 for DS1 when he was 8 because he started to stagger about saying he couldn't see, collapsed, was semi-conscious with blue lips. Was told to take him to A&E in the next hour - absolutely refused to send an ambulance because there was a family history of migraine and the computer said he didn't need one! I had to prop him up in the car and carry him in as he still wasn't properly conscious.

Called OOH for advice when DS1 (about 12) got a fishbone stuck in his throat - they insisted on sending an ambulance because 'their computer said they had to'! I reiterated that he was fine, walking around, said I would take him straight to A&E, but no, an ambulance would be sent. I was mortified when the paramedics turned up and apologised before explaining that I hadn't asked for one. Who would be fined in that situation? Me or the OOH person?

MyShoofly Sat 13-Apr-13 03:20:09

YANBU. I think flagrant misuse needs to be addressed somehow. I worked as a 911 dispatcher for a time and there were people who would call saying they had a cough or whatever just for a ride into town etc. Many of those were "frequent flyers" so to speak....but we had to send an ambulance for legal reasons. A total waste of time and resources.

Still some of these people wouldn't have had the means to pay a perhaps a criminal misdemeanor charge with community service or something like that..? Who knows what would actually work though - how can you prove they didn't think they were ill?

Some people are just utterly entitled no matter what you do.

bugsocute Sat 13-Apr-13 03:42:17

my sister rung them 1 time 1 of her feet got stuck in side a mice trap and it hurt her allot but the ambulance didnt take her away and before the mouse lover bridgage start fighting me mouse are evil peaces of work by the if i see 1 i would punch it. 1 got in to my plate and bowl cuboard 1 time stupid bitch i hate them so much ---TMI ALERT ---when i looked in side the cuboard there was so many pooes

maddening Sat 13-Apr-13 07:36:14

Yes bags that would be misuse of the ambulance service.

Szeli Sat 13-Apr-13 08:09:30

I tore a bunch of ligaments in my ankle and broke my foot falling over when I was 16; over half an hour away from the nearest hospital.
Rang NHS direct for advice as I thought going to a and e would be time wasting - got told I had to go to hospital and must get in a taxi. Cost me a whole days wages to pay for it! Then I had to call my mum at 3am to let her know what had happened to see if she could meet me with some money if I got a taxi home.

I've refused ambulances a couple of times tho. Don't see the point if there's an alternative option; I did always offer to be the person to accompany the drunk or overdosing teens to hospital as a teenager as we used to go out in a small town where the school was and I lived in the city where the hospital was - got me nearer to home and I was usually the most sober/sensible person about anyways smile x

pinkyredrose Sat 13-Apr-13 09:35:46

bugsocute are you still hanging around talking total crap? Ah bless ya, don't worry school starts again on Monday.


A complete and utter dickhead I know phoned an ambulance because she cut her babies finger when cutting his nails.....she was so distraught she was posting photos of the sorry saga onto facebook. hmm

Only problem I have with charging is some people may need an ambulance but be put off.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Sat 13-Apr-13 10:48:49

MsBella Fri 12-Apr-13 14:57:36
With my first 2 dcs I rang my midwife who called an ambulance both times- nobody said I was wasting time and it was a normal labour, I could walk, wasn't dying etc

Being in normal labour is an inappropriate use of an ambulance. At antenatal classes the midwife told us to work out our arrangements to get to hospital i.e taxi or car as being in labour was not an emergency.

pinkyredrose Sat 13-Apr-13 11:14:00

MsBella has already shown herself to be an overentitled inconsiderate arse hence her posts on the 'children in restaurants' thread about how she allows her DC to 'explore' when they go out to eat.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Sat 13-Apr-13 11:16:31

I know, I shouldn't have responded really! Some people really do think the world revolves around them and their children.

pinkyredrose Sat 13-Apr-13 11:25:32


CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Sat 13-Apr-13 11:35:09

I am one of those 'Don't want to he a bother' people. I deal with most things myself, and often catch a bus to A&E as I'm only 5 mins away - during the day, it's actually quicker to catch the bus than to wait for an ambulance.

However, there gave been a few occasions where ambulances have been called - for DS2's asthma, for DS3's allergies, when I had double pneumonia...

I think the solution is to move the problem to A&E. If the rules were rewritten to say 'if you have been triaged and your problem is very minor, could be dealt with elsewhere, or did not require ambulance transportation, we promise to deal with you at some point within the next eight hours and for the first seven of which you can sit in a very dull white room.

I drove my MiL to A&E on Thursday after she had a respiratory arrest. In retrospect I should have called an ambulance but it probably WAS quicker because there was a football match on locally and I knew the ambulance service would been ages.

We were triaged very quickly and because she was actually okay (she's just REALLY old and doesn't recover well from coughing fits). So they left us in the waiting room for an hour to keep her onsite but not really requiring close monitoring (other than obviously me sitting there noticing if she fell of her perch).

While we were there a stroppy bitch woman came up to the reception desk f-ing and blinding about how she'd come in an ambulance for her stubbed badly injured toe and now had been sat in the waiting room for half an hour and why wasn't she getting priority treatment.

Receptionist was very polite. Much politer than I'd be in pointing out that method of transport does not influence treatment times. But ye gods, some people do seem to think an ambulance takes them to the front of the queue.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now