AMBULANCES bosses are hailing the success of their campaign to preserve 999 vehicles for emergencies.

They say almost 80,000 people across the North West avoided an unnecessary trip to hospital last year thanks to telephone assessment and advice called the 'hear and treat' campaign.

The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has expanded its Clinical Hub, a team of clinicians who assess patients on the telephone and provide self-care advice or arrange for them to get the care they need in the community.

The hub was created as part of the ‘Transforming Patient Care’ programme, launched in 2017 to make sure patients who called 999 but did not need immediate or emergency hospital treatment and could receive the right care and support in the community.

Other Transforming Patient Care initiatives contributed to an increase of 6,600 people last year receiving ‘see and treat’ support, which is when NWAS clinicians will attend, assess the patient face-to-face, and deliver the right care on scene or refer them on to an alternative community-based care service.

Mark Newton, who leads Transforming Patient Care, said: “We’re committed to delivering the right care, at the right time, in the right place and, depending on your symptoms, this doesn’t always mean an emergency ambulance to hospital.

“We should only send an ambulance when it is clinically required and not everyone who calls 999 needs an emergency ambulance response. The expansion of the Clinical Hub, along with other improvements under the Transforming Care Programme, has increased our capability to manage this demand by helping to keep our emergency resources available to respond to life-threatening incidents while still delivering high quality care to patients with less urgent needs. Avoiding unnecessary hospital trips also helps our colleagues in other parts of the NHS, by reducing pressure on busy A&E departments. In many cases, the Clinical Hub will refer patients to other services in the community which is something individuals may have been able to do more quickly themselves. Therefore we ask members of the public to consider carefully which health service would be most appropriate to help them before dialling 999 – if the problem is not a life-threatening emergency, please visit, call 111, or speak to a GP or pharmacist for advice.”