Ambulance service issues urgent warning after 600 people left waiting

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People are being urged to take care ahead of the final weekend for Christmas as people are warning people to expect long ambulance waiting times. Thousands of people are expected to celebrate the festive period this weekend as temperatures in the UK are due to plummet to -12.7C in some areas. North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) says more than 600 patients in the North West were left waiting for an ambulance on Friday night.

A spokesperson for NWAS wrote on Twitter: “Please stop and think before calling 999 tonight! Once again this week we have more than 600 patients waiting for ambulances and we are really sorry that we cannot respond as quickly as our patients expect.

“If you really need us, we will get to you but there will be a wait. Only call 999 if someone has a serious illness or injury, you think their life is at risk, and you cannot get them to hospital by any other means.

“For anything else, check your symptoms at and call on friends or relatives for transport if necessary.”

Earlier this week, NWAS medical director Chris Grant apologised for the “delay in getting care” to members of the public saying they had called in more resources.

The Met Office has put a yellow weather warning in place for the whole of the East of England from 3am until 2pm on Saturday as temperatures as low as -12.7C were recorded this week.

On Tuesday, NWAS said more than 300 patients were left waiting for an ambulance.

The Department for Health and Social Care previously described the NWAS recent performance as “unacceptable” while promising billion of pound in funding over the next two years.

A government spokesperson told the Manchester Evening News: “These levels of performance are clearly unacceptable, and patients deserve access to the highest-quality urgent and emergency care.

“That is why we are prioritising health and social care with up to £14.1 billion over the next two years, on top of record funding. This winter, we are taking action to reduce ambulance handover delays.

This includes; setting up 24/7 data-driven system control centres in every local area to manage demand and ensure patients can access treatment as quickly as possible, increasing capacity in hospitals, and investing £500 million to speed up the safe discharge of people from hospital into social care – ensuring ambulances can get back out on the road.

“This is on top of £150 million this year for ambulance services to help meet pressures, £20 million to upgrade the ambulance fleet, and boosting call handlers.”

It comes ahead of planned ambulance strikes on December 21 and 28 as part of a coordinated industrial action by the GMB, Unison and Unite unions in a dispute over pay. 

A total of 750 military personnel will be deployed, with 600 driving ambulances and 150 in support roles to cover the 10,000 ambulance workers going on strike.

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