Ambulance service serving seven million people in England declares major incident over high number of calls

An ambulance service serving seven million people in England has warned patients face delays as it announces a major incident.

North West Ambulance Service – which covers Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Merseyside, Lancashire, Cumbria, and the north western fringes of the High Peak district of Derbyshire –  issued the alert over a surge in calls.

Now people are being urged to not call for an ambulance unless their situation is life-threatening.

“We’ve declared a major incident due to the high level of calls,” a statement said on Monday night, November 2.

“If your call is not life-threatening, you may be asked to seek an alternative source of care or make your way to hospital.”

The Mirror Online said the service said had declared a major incident due to an exceptionally high volume of calls, especially in the Greater Manchester area.

“We are trying our best to reach patients as soon as we possibly can,” North West Ambulance Service said in a statement.

The service urged people not to call for an ambulance unless their condition was life-threatening.

Officials also asked people not to call back asking how long paramedics would be.

In addition, the ambulance union also pleaded with local people not to flood the service with calls.

The NWAS union this evening tweeted to say: “Please help our crews by only calling if you really need us.

“They are being run ragged at the moment and they will get to you as soon as they can. Please consider using 111 First. Thank you.”

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The Manchester Evening News reports that the number of 999 calls has risen to 500 as of around 8.15pm tonight.

NWAS bosses have told MEN it is not clear what had caused the surge.

However, they do not believe it is linked to coronavirus.

After its initial tweet, NWAS issued a statement saying: “Due to high volume of calls into our service, the trust has declared a major incident. This is being managed in accordance with our usual protocols and we are urging the public to only call us if their condition is life threatening or potentially life threatening.

“Traditionally, Mondays are often a very busy day for us and we are unsure as to why we are seeing a surge today. There is currently nothing to indicate this increase in calls is in relation to Covid-19. We are putting in place additional support throughout the north west and will be closely monitoring the situation throughout the evening.

“There are patients who are facing delays and we are very sorry that we are unable to respond as quickly as we would like. Please help us by not calling us to check where the ambulance is as we need those lines to be free for those in a life-threatening condition. However, if you feel you no longer need an ambulance, please let us know.

“Due to the actions we have implemented, such as signposting patients to other services such as 11 online and utilising additional resources, since we declared a major incident we are starting to see a reduction in calls and would like to thank the public for their support.

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“For medical advice you can visit 111 online.”

The MEN reports that some ambulances crews are not being allowed into hospitals due to coronavirus.

Jeff Gorman, NWAS Unison branch secretary, said: “A lot of crews are being delayed significantly at hospitals for a long time because emergency department are not allowing them inside.

“That’s a worry for them if they have a Covid patient because they’re having to wait inside an ambulance with them.”

It was announced at 6.30pm that members of staff had agreed to cancel all breaks for two hours to deal with 999 calls.