Record calls for ambulance crews18th December 2008
Ambulance services across England have reported they are receiving an unprecedented level of calls.
They point to the coldest start to December for three decades and outbreaks of illness.
London Ambulance Service said last week was its busiest ever while services in the north west and the West Midlands had received high levels of calls and have now made requests to people to dial 999 only in a genuine emergency.
The high demand comes as cold weather leads to more falls, breathing problems and coincides with outbreaks of flu and the winter vomiting bug norovirus.
In addition, pressure on hospital beds has seen slower turnaround times at hospitals for ambulances and delays in offloading patients.
The national director for the ambulance services Peter Bradley, who is also chief executive of the London Ambulance Service, said: "It has been the most difficult 10 days I have seen in the last 10 years. It is absolutely horrendous. Hospitals are full and A&E departments are struggling."
In London, ambulance workers are handling 1,100 calls about "life-threatening" situations every day, with the total number of daily calls having risen in the last few weeks from around 3,000 to nearer 4,000.
West Midlands Ambulance Service chief executive Anthony Marsh said his authority received 8,000 calls last weekend but was also facing problems with tired staff and increased sickness levels.
"All staff are working flat out around the region to meet the extraordinary demand and are trying to do their best in very difficult circumstances," he said.
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Title: Record calls for ambulance crews
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 9619
Date Added: 18th Dec 2008