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Patients called 999 for sunburn while ambulance service was under 'extreme pressure'

PUBLISHED: 08:47 02 July 2019 | UPDATED: 08:54 02 July 2019

Hundreds of people enjoyed the sunshine at Hunstanton beach. Picture: Chris Bishop

Hundreds of people enjoyed the sunshine at Hunstanton beach. Picture: Chris Bishop

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The region's ambulance trust received calls from people suffering with sunburn as the service almost reached capacity over the weekend.

East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) reached surge level four - also known as surge black - for around four hours on Saturday, June 29.

The only level higher is a major incident.

Andrew Barlow, EEAST's community first responder manager (CFR) in Norfolk and Suffolk, tweeted to urge volunteers to help out.

On Sunday he said: "I am sure you are already aware we are under extreme pressure at the moment. During the night we were operating at surge black - surge level four.

"We are still very busy today so if there are any CFRs who can offer extra cover, thank you."

An EEAST spokesman said: "Spikes in demand can be caused by a wide variety of factors including weather, public holidays (and the activities people take part in during them).

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"Sometimes they can happen for no predictable reason.

"We went into our highest level of surge (level four) for around four hours on Saturday.

"Level four means that we will prioritise patients with life-threatening conditions above other calls and that patients with less serious injuries will experience delays.

"During last weekend, we received a high volume of calls, some of which were generated by the heatwave.

"Some of these were related to sunburn and other less serious conditions - albeit uncomfortable for patients.

"We'd therefore urge the public to firstly take basic self-care precautions in hot weather and to also think before calling 999.

"The ambulance service is for emergencies where you cannot get to hospital by other means.

"For all other medical enquiries, please call your GP or 111."

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