Ambulance Service reduces status to “moderate pressure”

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) NHS Foundation Trust today reduced its operational status to “moderate pressure” under a framework to protect core services for the most vulnerable patients in the region.

This status is the second of four levels of alert in the national framework designed to maintain an effective and safe operational and clinical response for the UK’s ambulance services.

NEAS has been operating at level three “severe pressure” since 8 December 2015 as its response standards to potentially life-threatening incidents deteriorated below the national target of eight minutes in 75% of all incidents.

Paul Liversidge, NEAS chief operating officer, said: “The extreme pressures we have experienced over the last 15 months has related to a national shortage of paramedics and the additional pressures across the wider NHS network.

“Our recruitment and training has started to make a significant difference and we expect to reach our full establishment of paramedics by next month. This has allowed us to make good progress against our Red 1 target – quickly reaching those patients who are in cardiac arrest and not breathing within eight minutes.”

However, he advised that it will take a while to recover the eight minute response standard as an additional 42 paramedics are to be recruited over the next two years and delays at hospital in handing over patients still need to improve.

Under REAP Level 2 (moderate pressure) ambulance services’ response to potentially life-threatening calls will vary between 65% and 75% within eight minutes. Over the last month, NEAS has been reaching Red 1 calls within eight minutes in more than 72% of incidents and the average figure since April 2016 has risen to 67% in eight minutes.

NEAS is the third ambulance service in the country to reduce the REAP level to moderate pressure.

Mr Liversidge added: “I’m pleased we are reducing our operational status, but there is still a long way to go. Please help us reach those patients who need us most by using 999 wisely. Turning up to hospital in an ambulance does not mean you will be seen any quicker.”

Members of the public should only dial 999 for medical emergencies.

Examples of medical emergencies include:      

  • Chest pain;
  • Breathing difficulties;
  • Unconsciousness;
  • Severe loss of blood;
  • Severe burns;
  • Choking;
  • Fitting;
  • Drowning
  • Severe allergic reactions

If it is not an emergency, members of the public are asked to seek help from their GP, pharmacist or local walk-in centre. Anyone unsure of where to go can call NHS 111.

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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