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Emergency services in Northern Ireland have warned that some ambulance call-outs are being hit with significant delays.
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) said it has been experiencing a sustained period of increased demand which is leading to increased wait times for patients to be collected and brought to A&E units.
It warned patients that just because they call for an ambulance does not mean they will necessarily be treated faster on arrival at a hospital.
The NIAS said many calls were being affected by delays due to increased demand.
“We will continue to prioritise the most serious calls to get a response to the sickest patients as soon as possible,” the agency said.
“However, calls for less serious emergencies are still currently subject to significant delays.”
The NIAS urged people to only call 999 if there is a serious medical emergency, adding: “For less serious problems you should continue to contact your own GP or local out-of-hours service in the first instance.
“Please consider alternative transport to an emergency department or minor injury unit for lesser injuries and complaints.
“We would take this opportunity to remind the public that arrival at an emergency department by ambulance does not mean you will be seen or treated more quickly than self-presentation.” – Press Association