South Central Ambulance Service declares critical incident after surge in emergency calls

A new initiative led by South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) is helping more than 50,000 patients a year receive the right treatment more quickly
South Central Ambulance Service declared a critical incident on Tuesday after a surge in 999 calls needing emergency care.

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) declared a critical incident after a surge in 999 calls needing an emergency response.

SCAS said 70% of callers were assessed as being in the two most urgent categories, which was higher than expected.

In a statement, the service said: "We declared a critical incident yesterday [Tuesday] afternoon (16:20) primarily due to an increase in the acuity of patients calling 999.

"Whilst overall demand is as our models have forecast, we have seen 70% of callers using 999 triaged as either a category 1 or category 2 emergency (which is a higher proportion than expected) meaning more patients require an ambulance response and transport to hospital."

70% of callers were triaged as either a category one or two emergency.

The service says the problem was made worse by delays in offloading patients.

It added: "This has happened at a time when we are experiencing challenges with handover delays at acute hospitals across our region, which then impacts our ability to respond accordingly.

"People calling 999 with lower acuity problems (category 3 and 4 patients) are likely to be advised to seek alternative care in order that we can increase our ambulance availability for patients with life-threatening injuries and illnesses."

Declaring a critical incident means the ambulance service is able to focus its resources on those patients most in need and highlights the pressures they are experiencing to patients and health system partners who can provide support where possible.

The trust, which covers Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire, appealed to patients to call NHS 111 for urgent medical advice and guidance wherever possible and appropriate to do so, as well as urgent treatment centres, pharmacists, and their GPs.

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