North East Ambulance Service declares critical incident due to 'unprecedented' pressure after Christmas

The North East Ambulance Service has declared a critical incident due to unprecedented pressure affecting its ability to respond to patients.

The incident was declared on Tuesday morning, December 27, as a result significant delays for over 100 patients across the region waiting for an ambulance.

Fewer ambulance crews being available to respond to calls because of delays in handing over patients at hospitals is also contributing to the situation.

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The North East Ambulance Service has declared a critical incident due to significant pressures.

Shane Woodhouse, strategic commander today at North East Ambulance Service, said: “This is the second time in nine days that we have declared a critical incident due to the unprecedented pressure we are seeing across the health system.

“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 www.111.nhs.uk, 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.”

Patients waiting for an ambulance should only ring back if their condition worsens or if it is no longer required.

People are also asked to use 111 online due to the high number of calls the service is receiving.

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The ambulance service said it has been operating at its highest level of alert status over Christmas.

Patient transport for appointments is operating for essential journeys only such as dialysis, chemotherapy, oncology and heart care, to help free up crews.