A CRACKED tooth, the hiccups and constipation were all considered serious enough for some dozy residents in the region to call for an ambulance over Christmas.

Staff at the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) answered an astonishing 4,111 emergency calls and attended 3,178 incidents on Christmas Day alone.

And bosses say the figure has continued to rise on subsequent days as they urge the public to only dial 999 in the case of real emergencies.

Director of Operations Ged Blezard said: “This Christmas has been one of our busiest ever and there are no indications that activity is going to reduce as we head towards New Year’s Eve – traditionally always our busiest day.

“Yesterday (December 27) we were astounded to see that our control staff had answered 5,491 emergency calls and we know that not all of these required an emergency ambulance response."

Between December 23 and 27, NWAS call centres received the following calls. Ambulances were not despatched and callers were advised on seeking help elsewhere:

* Cracked tooth – Greater Manchester

* Soiled self – Greater Manchester

* Constipation – Merseyside

* Had cold symptoms for a week – Merseyside

* Sinus infection – Lancashire

* Had a cough for three months – Merseyside

* Sore throat and a cough, only started in the morning – Cheshire

* Need a repeat prescription – Lancashire

* Can’t stop hiccupping – Merseyside

* Burnt finger six days ago, still swollen – Greater Manchester

* Swallowed toothpaste the day before, got stomach ache now – Greater Manchester

* Chipped tooth - Lancashire

Mr Blezard added: “Unfortunately, there have been some patients who have been waiting longer than we would like but I want to assure the public that we are doing the very best we can to reach people as quickly as possible, but if your condition is not urgent, you will wait some time for a response or be given advice on other healthcare options.”

He said the sudden cold snap across the region was also likely to increase activity as those with heart and lung conditions may need help.

Furthermore, icy roads bring about an increase in road traffic collisions and also slow down ambulances.

Mr Blezard added: “Please do check on elderly and infirm friends, relatives or neighbours, make sure their homes are adequately heated and they have the medications they need. For coughs, colds and sore throats, seek advice from your pharmacist.

“Ambulances must be kept free for those in urgent or life-threatening conditions and should not be used as a quick route into hospital.

“Our staff in the call centres and out on the roads are working incredibly hard at the moment and doing the best they can for patients but we also need the public’s help in making the right call.”

NWAS is also reminding people to act responsibly with New Year's Eve around the corner.

Mr Blezard said: “On this night we see an increase in assault and alcohol related injuries and these are avoidable if people take some simple steps - eat well, don’t drink to excess and wear warm clothing when out and about. No one wants to see in the New Year with a headache and bruises.”