North West Ambulance Service is urging the public to think before dialling 999 after a combination of factors, including severe weather and hospital handover delays, impact on its ability to respond quickly to patients.
At 5pm on Monday 12 December, there were more than 600 patients waiting for ambulances across the North West, and 100 emergency vehicles at hospitals waiting to handover patients.
NWAS is maximising its resources by putting all clinically trained staff on the responding frontline, increasing its use of private providers and working with healthcare partners to guide non-urgent cases to other healthcare services.
Ged Blezard, Director of Operations at North West Ambulance Service said: “Please only call 999 if someone has a serious illness or injury, you think their life is at risk, and you cannot get them to hospital by any other means.
“We know there are patients waiting for our help and we are sorry that we are unable to respond as quickly as we would like. Please be assured that we will get to you as soon as we can.
“The public can help us by only calling 999 for life-threatening emergencies. We cannot stress enough that our ambulance crews are reserved for the most life-threatening cases and these incidents will be prioritised.
“Please do not call 999 to check on ambulance arrival times, we cannot answer this question, and this blocks the line for other calls trying to get through.
“For all other health concerns, it is likely we will direct you to alternative services, so please help us by first checking your symptoms at 111.nhs.uk and call on friends or relatives for transport if necessary.”
Typical emergencies include cardiac arrest, loss of consciousness, fits that aren’t stopping, chest pain, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding, severe allergic reactions, burns and scalds, suspected stroke and serious head injuries.