Ambulance service facing extreme pressures and overwhelming volume of calls

An ambulance service has declared a critical incident in the face of “extreme pressure” and “overwhelming” call volume.

The South Central Ambulance Service urged the public to be wise in considering whether to call, and reminded people that they should only be contacted in case of life-threatening illness and injury.

The declaration of a critical incident comes not long after hospitals in England were ordered to “clear” the queues of ambulances outside their locations after two deaths resulted in delays in handover.

NHS chiefs highlighted the “risk to patient safety” in the letter urging trusts to end all handover delays and stop using ambulances as an “emergency room”.

The South Central Ambulance Service covers the counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire, Sussex and Surrey.

On Saturday evening, the service tweeted: “The South Central Ambulance Service has reported a critical incident due to the extreme pressure on our services. Our staff and volunteers work very hard to respond to calls, but the volume is overwhelming.

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“Please support us by using our services wisely, we are there for life-threatening illnesses and injuries. Thank you #HelpUsHelpYou. “

Earlier this week, ambulance drivers described the “highest emergency activity in history,” and reports from across the country paint a bleak picture of ambulances queuing for hours in front of busy hospitals.

Martin Flaherty, executive director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, said, “The ambulance sector is experiencing some of the highest emergency activity in its history and this unfortunately creates delays in the sector’s ability to respond to some patients.”

According to the NHS, a critical incident is any localized incident where the severity of the disruption causes an organization to temporarily or permanently lose its ability to provide critical services, potentially harming patients, or causing unsafe conditions and taking special measures and Assistance from other agencies is required to restore normal operating functions.

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