Plea for public to stop calling 999 for Covid-19 tests and check-ups

8th April 2020

THE Welsh Ambulance Service is appealing to the public not to call 999 for a Coronavirus test.

Some patients have been demanding that paramedics perform an on-the-spot test to rule out the virus, according to feedback from crews.

Ambulance crews do not, and never have, carried tests for Coronavirus.

The Trust also reports that people have been calling 999 under an emergency pretext but on arrival crews are being asked to give a ‘check-up.’

In a video appeal shared on social media, Lee Brooks, the Trust’s Director of Operations, said: “Our people are working incredibly hard to provide you with the best possible care in these exceptionally challenging circumstances.

“Our crews cannot perform swabbing or testing for Coronavirus, so please don’t call us for this reason.

“Please also don’t call us for a ‘check-up’ if you have symptoms of Coronavirus.

“Our emergency ambulance service exists to help people whose lives are in immediate danger, and not to give precautionary check-ups.

“If you are self-isolating at home then you do not need to be tested, and you do not need to call 111 to tell us you’re self-isolating.

“You should only call 111 if your symptoms worsen considerably or you cannot manage your symptoms at home.”

“We do understand that you’re concerned and frightened, but using us unnecessarily is taking our precious resources away from patients who really need our help.”

The official advice from Public Health Wales says that testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home.

Only those in hospital are being routinely tested for Coronavirus.

Testing is also accessible to healthcare workers to allow them to return to work on the frontline quicker if it is a negative result.

The Trust’s plea is on the back of a similar appeal last week, which was for the public’s honesty when calling 111 or 999 for help after it become apparent that some people were withholding information about their illness for fear of not being sent an ambulance.

It means crews have been attending some incidents without the necessary protective equipment, exposing them to potential harm.

If you have symptoms of Covid-19 – that is a new, continuous cough or a high temperature – you can take the Covid-19 symptom checker at www.111.wales.nhs.uk/covid19 

You can also use this resource to access a self-isolation note for your employer.

Editor’s Notes
For more information, please call Head of Communications Lois Hough on 01745 778671 or email Lois.Hough@wales.nhs.uk