North East Ambulance Service has today (19 December) declared a critical incident as a result of unprecedented pressure impacting its ability to respond to patients.
The incident was declared this afternoon as a result of significant delays for more than 200 patients waiting for an ambulance, together with a reduction in ambulance crew availability to respond because of delays in handing over patients at the region’s hospitals.
Stephen Segasby, chief operating officer at North East Ambulance Service, said: “Our service is under unprecedented pressure.
“Declaring a critical incident means we can focus our resources on those patients most in need and communicates the pressures we are under to our health system partners who can provide support.
“We are asking the public to call us only in a life-threatening emergency. For all other patients, we are urging them to use www.111.nhs.uk, speak to their GP or pharmacist.
“Our staff and volunteers continue to work extremely hard to respond to calls and incidents. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their hard work and commitment at this challenging time.”
The Trust has been operating at its highest level of operational alert since 5 December. Declaring a critical incident allows NEAS to instigate several additional measures to protect patient safety including:
Seeking mutual aid
Cancelling all training to allow for the redeployment of all clinical staff
No longer taking bookings for urgent, non-emergency transportation
Increasing third party provider provision