THE Christmas period is a normal working week for the majority of our staff as we continue to provide an essential life-saving emergency service to residents across Yorkshire.

December has already been very busy for our service and other parts of the NHS. In addition, our non-emergency Patient Transport Service is ensuring patients who need vital treatments such as renal dialysis are conveyed to their appointments.

I am writing to your readers to ask them to be considerate and help to ease the pressure on our services over the festive period.

We ask that you only call 999 for an ambulance in an emergency, when it is clear that you or another person has a serious or life-threatening illness or injury and needs time-critical medical assistance.

Anyone with a minor illness or injury should use the appropriate services for their needs such as their local pharmacist or GP, attending a walk-in-centre or minor injuries unit or calling NHS 111.

I’m pleased to say the vast majority of people do use our emergency service appropriately. However, some do need to be reminded about the importance of making the right choice about their healthcare needs and the NHS Choices website provides useful information and advice.

We have a dedicated Choose Well page on our website which contains details of walk-in centres and minor injuries units. You can also go to Finally, I would like to pass on enormous thanks to our hard-working staff and volunteers who care for patients 365 days a year, particularly those who are working over the festive period for their continued dedication, kindness and professionalism during what will be our busiest period. I know how much this is appreciated by our patients and their families.

Rod Barnes, chief executive of Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust

Think of others

THIS has been a turbulent year and for many people, Christmas and New Year is at last a time when some people can relax and spend quality time with their family and friends.

But as we enjoy the festive period I want us all to spare a thought for those people who maybe won’t enjoy this time of year as much as others.

For some older and vulnerable people this can be a lonely time, particularly for those with few friends or relatives close by. Please try to look out for anyone who might be lonely this Christmas and take the time to call in on them from time to time or even invite them to join your celebrations.

There is an excellent charity, Silver Line, which provides support for older people. You can call them if you or someone you know might be experiencing loneliness on 0800 4708090.

And also please remember the carers, paid and unpaid, who will forego their break to ensure those people who need care in a care home or in their own home get the help they need over the Christmas and the New Year period. They will be working throughout the festive season, in many cases round the clock, to give people care.

In 2017 we surely have to find a way to get them better recognition and a fairer deal for social care too.

Mike Padgham, chairman of Independent Care Group

Shoebox success

THE Charity Operation Christmas Child has just finished its 2016 Shoebox collection and the generosity of so many people in the Ryedale area is almost overwhelming.

The Christmas Shoeboxes filled by schools, churches, youth groups workplaces and many individuals were taken to the Scarborough warehouse to be processed, sealed and cartoned before being taken by lorry to needy children in the Ukraine in time for Christmas.

More than 9,000 shoeboxes were collected in the warehouse and this number included 6,000 from the Scarborough, Ryedale, Whitby, Filey, Driffield and Bridlington areas plus 3,000 boxes from Hull.

One of the slogans of the charity is “Love in a box” and this was exemplified by all the many generous people who supported the appeal again this year. Many needy children in the Ukraine will know that people in our area do care and are willing to help brighten their lives by giving them the gift of a shoebox at Christmas.

The support of Cundalls and Yorkshire Building Society in Malton is also greatly appreciated as they used their businesses as Drop Off Points for the Shoeboxes.

We send our best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to everyone who supported the appeal.

Ros Dyson, voluntary area coordinator, Operation Christmas Child