North West Ambulance Service has warned people not to call 999 unless it is an emergency due to high demand. NWAS Unison branch secretary Jeff Gorman has warned COVID-19 has made an impact on resources.
The North West Ambulance Service said in a statement: “North West Ambulance Service has declared a major incident due to the high level of activity in the North West region, in particular the Greater Manchester area.
“If your call is not life-threatening, you may be asked if you can seek an alternative source of care or make your way to hospital by alternate means.
“You can help us reach the patients that urgently need our help by not calling 999 unless the condition is life-threatening or potentially life-threatening, not calling us to find out where your ambulance is or calling to cancel any ambulance that you no longer require or feel is necessary.
“We are trying our best to reach patients as soon as we possibly can and apologise for any delays in our response. Please bear with us.”
The ambulance said they are unsure why there has been an increase in calls but said there is nothing indicating COVID-19 related incidents.
They said: “Traditionally, Monday’s are often a very busy day for us and we are unsure as to why we are seeing a surge today.
“There is currently nothing to indicate this increase in calls is in relation to COVID-19.
“We are putting in place additional support throughout the North West and will be closely monitoring the situation throughout the evening.
“There are patients who are facing delays and we are very sorry that we are unable to respond as quickly as we would like.
“Please help us by not calling us to check where the ambulance is as we need those lines to be free for those in a life-threatening condition.
“However, if you feel you no longer need an ambulance, please let us know.”
They added they are already seeing a reduction in calls since declaring it a major incident.
The ambulance service said it was ‘exceptionally busy’ and has told people to expect delays.
NWAS Tweeted tonight: “We are exceptionally busy this evening.
“Unfortunately there will be delays and we urge you not to call back to ask how long we will be.
“Please only ring 999 for life threatening emergencies.”
NWAS Unison branch secretary Jeff Gorman said crews have never dealt with a situation like this before.
“We are obviously entering into winter pressures which is always a really busy time of year,” he said.
“Things are much worse at the moment because of Covid and the impact it has had on resources.
“A lot of our members are off isolating which naturally results in less ambulances on the road.
“To be fair to the management team, they have been completely open with and have been looking at ways to maximise the number of ambulances out there.
“It’s very extreme. I have been here for 30 years and I have never known anything like this.
“They don’t declare a major incident easily.
“Normally we would just crack on and cope.”
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