North East Ambulance Service declares critical incident due to 'extreme pressures'

The service is asking people to only call 999 in life-threatening situations. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

The North East Ambulance Service has declared a critical incident as it struggles to cope with demand.

The incident was declared on the afternoon of Monday 19 December after more than 200 people experienced significant delays while waiting for an ambulance.

According to the service, the delays were caused by "unprecedented pressure" and "delays in handing over patients at the region’s hospitals".

The service has been operating at its "highest level of operational alert" since 5 December.

It said declaring a critical incident enables NEAS to initiate several additional measures to protect patient safety.

These include seeking mutual aid, and cancelling all training to allow for the redeployment of clinical staff.

The service will also no longer need to take bookings for urgent but non-emergency transportation and increase third party provider provision.

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, 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."

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