North West Ambulance Service moves to ‘extreme pressure’ alert level

The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has moved to the top level of a NHS alert framework with bosses saying it is experiencing ‘extremely high levels of activity’.

This afternoon (January 12) NWAS was moved into Level 4 of the Resource Escalation Action Plan (REAP).

This means there is ‘extreme pressure’ on its services.

It’s thought the decision was made due to the impact of Covid-19 and other pressures on the system, the MEN reports.

NWAS bosses said all clinically trained staff will work on the frontline of healthcare, and urged people to only call 999 in serious or life-threatening incidents.

The ambulance service said the REAP level has fluctuated over recent times and could change again.

It said the REAP framework provides guidance to healthcare managers in addressing challenges they are experiencing.

The situation falls short of declaring a major incident – a measure which NWAS was forced to do in November – after reports of patients being stuck in corridors for hours, ambulances queuing outside hospitals and a surge in callouts.

In a statement this evening, Ged Blezard, NWAS’s Director of Operations, said: “REAP levels are nationally set measurements of activity, used by all ambulance services in the UK. The higher the number (1-4) the more pressure the service is under. Normal levels are deemed to be at stages one to two.

“For the duration of the pandemic, NWAS has been operating between two to three and today has taken the decision to escalate to REAP Level 4 – extreme pressure.

“This is due to the extremely high levels of activity in the North West region, the pressure on local hospitals and the trust operating while some of its workforce are isolating or shielding.

“In response to this rise, NWAS is maximising its resources by putting all clinically trained staff on the responding frontline, increasing our use of private providers and working with our healthcare partners to safely help us guide non urgent cases to other healthcare services.

“REAP levels can change throughout the day and the trust will be carefully monitoring the effects of the escalation which is hoped will help manage the increase in demand.

“The public can help us by only calling 999 in serious or life-threatening emergencies, checking their symptoms on 111 online and acting within the Government COVID guidelines by only travelling when necessary, shopping only for essential items and staying home.”

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Lancs Live – Cumbria