AMBULANCE workers leapt into action this morning as the heavy snow and icy conditions saw emergency calls increase by almost 20 per cent.
Assistant chief ambulance officer Craig Cooke said crews had coped 'extremely well' with the elements and were seeing patients as quickly as possible.
“I am thankful to the public who adhered to the weather warnings and the public safety advice,” he said.
He advised taking extra care over the weekend while conditions remained difficult, only travelling if essential and urged people to 'choose well' if they did need to access the NHS.
“The 999 service is for life-threatening conditions and emergencies, such as chest pain, stroke, serious blood loss or a state of unconsciousness,” he said. “Other agencies such as NHS Direct are available to offer advice and assistance on less urgent cases.”
He suggested keeping medicine cabinets stocked with remedies for coughs, colds and headaches as well as plasters for minor wounds and grazes and recommended treating minor injuries and illnesses at home with over-the-counter medicines and plenty of rest.
Mr Cooke said another option for over-the-counter medicine and advice was to visit a pharmacy or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 which can provide information 24 hours a day and directions to other local services.
He also recommended walk-in, urgent care or minor injuries units which offer the same support as your local GP, including immunisations, prescriptions, some minor surgery and help for minor injuries.
As a final measure, Mr Cooke suggested people with an illness or injury that persisted should make a GP appointment, telephoning the local surgery and following the recorded instructions if an emergency out-of-hours appointment proved necessary.