Ambulances are for genuine emergencies only and misuse of the service can cost lives - that is the stark message from Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

Winter - and the festive season in particular - is a challenging time for the ambulance service, with a significant increase in emergency calls.

But some people are dialling 999 with minor ailments or for simple medical advice.

To ease inappropriate use of the lifesaving service, ambulance bosses are urging people to only call 999 in the event of a genuine emergency such as a serious accident, severe loss of blood, heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke or breathing difficulties.

They say people with minor illnesses and injuries should visit their GP, minor injuries unit or a pharmacist or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or their out-of-hours GP service.

Paul Mudd, the ambulance trust’s locality director of operations, said: “We will always respond to medical emergencies where it is believed someone needs time-critical help, but our call-takers and crews are often faced with people who just require treatment or advice for a minor injury or illness.”