NEAS raises level of alert due to "severe pressure."
Demand high across the UK
North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust today raised
its operational status to "severe pressure" under a framework to
protect core services for the most vulnerable patients in the
There are six levels of alert in the national framework designed
to maintain an effective and safe operational and clinical response
for the UK's ambulance services.
Today, NEAS was the eighth ambulance service out of 10 in
England to declare its status at level 4. This means that while we
attempt to operate a normal service, our response standard to
potentially life-threatening calls has deteriorated.
Paul Liversidge, NEAS chief operating officer, said: "We are
experiencing severe pressures in responding to emergency calls and
with additional pressures across the wider NHS network causing
delays in ambulance turnaround times at hospitals we have taken the
decision to move the service to level 4 to protect our most
This means that some patient transport service vehicles will
move onto emergency care front line services; paramedic trainers
and other clinical staff working in support services will return to
front line duties; and clinically qualified managers will be made
available for front line duties.
The public can help NEAS reach those patients most in need
during this time by using 999 wisely. If someone has an injury of
ailment which is not an emergency, they can call NHS 111, or seek
help from their GP, pharmacist or local walk-in centre.
During winter months, the demand for NHS services increases
significantly as cold weather means there are more slips, trips and
injuries. Generally more people feel unwell during the winter as
they spend more time indoors and coughs and colds are passed around
the family, friends and colleagues at work.
This all adds up to more of people having an accident or
becoming unwell with a winter bug, meaning more people want to see
their GP, attend accident and emergency or call 999.
North East Ambulance Service is urging people to 'Keep calm and
look after yourself' this winter, to remind people that many of the
common winter ailments and illnesses are easily treated at home, or
with advice from a pharmacist - with no need to see a doctor or
Advice on how to treat a range of common winter conditions by
keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home or speaking to your
local pharmacist is available at keepcalmthiswinter.org.uk
Mr Liversidge continues, "Most normally healthy people with a
winter illness do not need to see their GP, attend A&E and
absolutely do not need to call 999. Colds, sore throats,
head-aches, hangovers, upset stomachs, coughs, aches, pains, and
winter vomiting should all be treated at home or with the advice of
your local pharmacist, with pain killers, rest and plenty of
"By doing this not only are you helping to reduce the spread of
winter viruses to other vulnerable patients in NHS waiting rooms -
you are also keeping appointments available for people who have
serious health conditions that must see a doctor or nurse."
What is REAP?
All UK ambulance services have six levels of alert, based
on demand and performance, aimed at maintain an effective and safe
operational and clinical response. Normal routine operations would
be at REAP Level 1 and at each level there are actions to protect
every ambulance trust's core services.
The REAP is designed to increase operational resource in line
with demand, in order to assist the service in coping with periods
of high pressure and maintain the quality of patient care. Hence
the varying levels reflecting increased pressure on the service, up
to Level 6 where there is potential service failure.
The considerations and actions within the REAP are designed to
assist in protecting staff, patients and the organisation, and to
enable the trust to deliver core functions and to recover the full
range of service within an agreed timeframe.