North East Ambulance Service declares second critical incident in nine days

The North East Ambulance Service declared a critical incident. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The North East Ambulance Service has declared its second critical incident in nine days due to "unprecedented pressure" on its resources.

The service said more than 100 patients have faced significant delays in waiting for an ambulance. There has also been a reduction in ambulance crew availability due to delays in handing over patients at hospitals across the region.

NEAS has been operating at its highest level of alert status throughout the Christmas period to allow it to cope with pressures over the extended bank holiday weekend, which covered Christmas and Boxing Day.

Shane Woodhouse, strategic commander today at North East Ambulance Service, said: “Declaring a critical incident alerts our health system partners to provide support where they can and means we can focus our resources on those patients most in need.

“The public should only call 999 in a life-threatening emergency. For all other patients, we are urging them to use, speak to their GP or pharmacist. We will be advising some patients to make their own way to hospital when it is safe to do so. 

"We know patients will be experiencing longer waits for an ambulance – please only call back if your condition worsens or to cancel if it is no longer required.  We are experiencing greater numbers of calls to 111 right now and ask that callers please consider 111 online first and don’t call 999 unless your condition is life threatening.”

Services to transport patients to appointments are only in place for essential journeys such as dialysis, chemotherapy, oncology and heart care.

NEAS says the reduction in this service will run until later in the week to allow it to redeploy crews to support lower acuity emergency care patients as well as discharges from hospital.

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