'Major incident' declared in Yorkshire due to severe snow on roads

14 January 2021, 16:47 | Updated: 15 January 2021, 00:52

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A "major incident" has been declared by Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) due to heavy snow leaving roads in the region gridlocked.

The service warned that driving conditions in Yorkshire are "very difficult" and are having a "severe impact" on its operations meaning it is taking longer to reach patients in the worst-hit areas.

Heavy snow and current high demand for emergency ambulances due to the coronavirus pandemic "are causing difficulties" for the YAS Trust.

A spokesman urged people throughout the region to take extra care when driving or walking and to completely avoid travelling in snowy or icy conditions.

“If you do have to go out, ensure that you wear appropriate footwear and warm clothing. Also, please stay in touch with elderly and vulnerable relatives and neighbours to ensure they are safe and well," strategic commander Mark Millins said.

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A major incident has been declared by Yorkshire Ambulance Service due to the heavy snow
A major incident has been declared by Yorkshire Ambulance Service due to the heavy snow. Picture: PA

The message from YAS has been echoed across the region's emergency services throughout the day, with West Yorkshire Police saying they have been "inundated" with calls about road accidents.

Many commuters experienced gridlock on the roads on Thursday morning, with some footage showing a bus sliding sideways down a hill in Halifax.

Mr Millins said: “We are implementing a number of actions in order to protect our core services for patients and respond to the ongoing demand, including increasing our 4x4 capacity.

“We are asking members of the public to only call us in a serious or life-threatening emergency to help us focus our efforts on our most poorly patients."

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Meanwhile, people in Nottinghamshire were also asked not to travel on Thursday unless absolutely necessary.

It comes after heavy snow and freezing rain battered parts of the UK, with some older patients told to rebook their vaccination appointments to avoid the bad weather.

The Met Office previously issued an amber snow warning for parts of Scotland and northern England overnight into Thursday, with up to 11cm falling in the Perth and Kinross area and 5cm in Cumbria by 9am, and large accumulations elsewhere.

Hospital bosses have advised older people not to visit Newcastle's Centre for Life mass vaccination hub due to the conditions, urging them to rebook their appointment.

The Newcastle NHS Hospitals Foundation Trust tweeted: "It's easy to do by calling 119. No need to risk travelling in the bad weather."

A yellow warning for icy conditions remains in place until 10am on Friday, stretching from the northern Highlands to southern England.

The temperature fell as low as minus 5.5C (21F) in North Yorkshire on Thursday morning, and minus 6.4C (20F) in Dalwhinnie in the Highlands.

Nicky Maxey, a Met Office spokeswoman, said on Thursday that unsettled conditions are set to last into next week, and she urged people to be alert for new warnings from the forecaster.

The ambulance service ended the major incident alert at around 10pm on Wednesday and say staff are monitoring the situation closely.