Ambulance service issues stark warning after record number of 999 calls
Emergency services have been under ‘sustained pressure’
The North East Ambulance Service has issued an urgent public appeal after an unprecedented rise in 999 calls.
The emergency services are reminding the people of the North East that they should only be using the 999 number in case of a "life-threatening emergency".
The service revealed it has been under sustained pressure for several months and demand is currently at its highest escalation level since July.
On Monday, October 18 the service took over two million calls in 24 hours.
On that same day, just 4,000 people called the NHS 111 number.
As a result, the North East Ambulance Service is reminding people to use the 111 number where appropriate.
Services continued to be impacted by Covid with longer turnaround times between patients due to additional cleaning measures.
Chief Executive Helen Ray said: “The pressure we and our colleagues across the region currently find ourselves in is unprecedented.
“Rest assured, if you need us urgently, we will be there for you.
"We have some seriously unwell patients who desperately need our help and will continue to prioritise those first, but that will mean that those patients who don’t have a life-threatening condition will wait longer than we would like.
“Our staff are working flat out to ensure we keep our patients safe, and I can’t thank them enough for their hard work.
"It’s testament to them that we were the fastest performing ambulance service for our most seriously unwell patients and performed better than the national average for all other response standards in September, despite the challenges we’re facing.
“But we also need your help by keeping our lines free for those who really need us.
“I know it can be really difficult when you need help and you’re not sure where to turn but please try your GP, your pharmacist or dentist first as well as making use of the 111 online service, which can often provide you with the help you require.”
The North East Ambulance service reminds the public that they should continue to contact 999 if they experience:
- A cardiac arrest where the patient is unconscious and not breathing
- Signs of a heart attack e.g. a pain like a heavy weight in the centre of your chest
- Difficulty breathing
- Signs of stroke such as the face drooping on one side or weakness on one side
- Heavy bleeding that won’t stop
- Sudden and rapid swelling of the eyes, lips, throat or tongue