Ambulance service demand remained high over the festive period

Date published: 05 January 2021

Despite strict coronavirus restrictions being felt by the majority of the region, the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) still had to respond to a high level of demand this festive season.

The week between Christmas and New Year is traditionally one of the busiest times of year for the trust, and this year was no exception, albeit slightly less than the previous year.

On New Year’s Day alone the trust received nearly five thousand 999 calls, which was around 350 calls fewer (6½ %) than last year, while on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve levels were only slightly reduced.

Director of Operations, Ged Blezard said: “As always, we were well prepared for the spike in calls over the whole festive period with months of planning and additional resources available.

“The reduction in New Year’s Day calls undoubtedly was down to the restrictions placed over the region which prevented the usual alcohol related incidents in town and city centres. However the number of 999 calls we received on New Year’s Day still represents a high level of demand and coronavirus itself continues to add its own complications.

“We have continued to meet the challenges to provide a safe service not only across our 999 emergency service, but also our 111 and Patient Transport services thanks to the skill and effort of all the NWAS staff that worked over the festive period.

“Alongside our dedicated workforce, we are also very grateful for the support from our Community First Responders and other volunteers at this time. Many have been helping to man a specialist fleet of welfare vehicles during busy shifts, supplying drinks, snacks and wellbeing advice to staff as they convey patients to hospitals across the region. The fact that they are volunteers and give their time freely makes their contribution even more commendable.

“I would like to thank everyone for their support during this busy time and using the service appropriately. We must prioritise life-threatening emergencies which can mean that patients in a less serious condition do experience a wait. We have been able to reduce wait times as much as possible by managing calls through our clinical hub providing medical advice over the phone and treating patients in the community wherever possible, reducing unnecessary emergency department admissions.

“As we head into January and February and the cold winter continues, we are expecting the high demand to continue and ask for the public to continue to help us by only calling 999 in life-threatening emergencies.”

Do you need to visit A&E?

People can take advice from a pharmacist for common health worries, book an appointment with their GP for health issues which will not go away, visit the urgent care centre at Rochdale Infirmary for minor illnesses and injuries or use NHS 111 online for health advice.

Before attending A&E in person, please don’t forget to call 111 first, they will ensure patients are appropriately directed to the right care, and if a visit to hospital is required, they will make an appointment slot for you.

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