'Major incident' declared by North West Ambulance over 'high volume' of 999 calls

2 November 2020, 18:37 | Updated: 2 November 2020, 19:48

North West Ambulance Service have declared a major incident
North West Ambulance Service have declared a major incident. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

A major incident has been declared by the North West Ambulance Service due to high levels of 999 calls.

According to the Manchester Evening News, the service in the area has been affected by paramedics needing to self isolate due to coronavirus.

A statement said: "Due to the high volume of calls into our service, the trust has declared a major incident. This is being managed in accordance with our usual protocols and we are urging the public to only call us if their condition is life-threatening or potentially life-threatening.

"Traditionally, Mondays 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.

"Due to the actions we have implemented, such as signposting patients to other services such as 111 online and utilising additional resources, since we declared a major incident, we are starting to see a reduction in calls and would like to thank the public for their support. For medical advice, you can visit 111 online."

The ambulance service would not say how many calls they had received, but sources told the MEN there are 295 calls waiting and 127 'active calls' in Greater Manchester.

Patients are being told not to dial 999 for an estimated time of arrival of ambulances, however they can call back to cancel the ambulance.

Ambulance staff have suspended meal breaks to help catch up with the backlog, union representatives said.

NWAS Unison branch secretary Jeff Gorman said crews had never dealt with a situation like the current major incident.

"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."