North West Ambulance Service declares a major incident as dozens of 999 calls are left on hold


North West Ambulance Service declares a major incident as dozens of 999 calls are left on hold with crews ‘run ragged’ after ‘several paramedics isolated due to coronavirus’

  • North West Ambulance Service covers  areas including Greater Manchester 
  • People waiting for ambulance told not to call 999 back to see how far away it is
  • Staff working for NWAS agreed to go without breaks for a two hour period

North West Ambulance Service has declared a ‘major incident’ due to an exceptionally high volume of calls.

The service – which covers areas including Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria – has urged those with non life-threatening injuries to take themselves to hospital or seek other care.

People waiting for an ambulance have been told not to call 999 back to see how far away help is – but can call to say they no longer need an ambulance if necessary.

Staff working for the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) agreed to go without breaks for a two-hour period to tackle the mountain of call ins which the service says were not directly related to Covid-19.

The force is currently handling 500 calls but it is not clear what has caused the massive surge, sources told Manchester Evening News.

The service is said to be struggling as several paramedics are isolating due to Covid-19.

North West Ambulance Service has declared a ‘major incident’ (the service’s social media, pictured) due to an exceptionally high volume of calls

The service - which covers areas including Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria - has urged those with non life-threatening injuries to take themselves to hospital or seek other care

The service – which covers areas including Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria – has urged those with non life-threatening injuries to take themselves to hospital or seek other care

Ambulance union bosses have urged people seeking help to 'only call if you really need to'

Ambulance union bosses have urged people seeking help to ‘only call if you really need to’

Ambulance union bosses have urged people seeking help to ‘only call if you really need to’.

They said crews across the North East are being ‘run ragged’.

NWAS Unison secretary Jeff Gorman told the local paper that it is the first time the service has ever dealt with a situation like this one.

He said: ‘It’s very extreme. I have been here for 30 years and I have never known anything like this. They don’t declare a major incident easily.’

An NWAS spokesperson said:  ‘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. 

Staff working for the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) agreed to go without breaks for a two-hour period to tackle the mountain of call ins which the service says were not directly related to Covid-19

Staff working for the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) agreed to go without breaks for a two-hour period to tackle the mountain of call ins which the service says were not directly related to Covid-19

People waiting for an ambulance have been told not to call 999 back to see how far away help is - but can call to say they no longer need an ambulance if necessary

People waiting for an ambulance have been told not to call 999 back to see how far away help is – but can call to say they no longer need an ambulance if necessary

People waiting for an ambulance have been told not to call 999 back to see how far away help is - but can call to say they no longer need an ambulance if necessary (file image)

People waiting for an ambulance have been told not to call 999 back to see how far away help is – but can call to say they no longer need an ambulance if necessary (file image) 

‘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.

‘For medical advice you can visit 111 online.’

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