Advice for the public as SCAS contends with significant increase in pressure

Jul 11, 2022 | Members e-Bulletin, News

On Thursday (14 July) we moved from our ‘critical incident’ status which was declared on Monday (see below) to an internal ‘business continuity’ status.

The pressure we have been facing has eased but not gone away and we are expecting the next few days to remain very challenging due to high levels of demand, the very high temperatures expected in our region from Sunday to Tuesday and the impact of continuing challenges facing other parts of our local NHS and social care services.

We would like to pay tribute to our staff, volunteers and partners who have worked with great professionalism, dedication and care over a challenging few days and we ask for the public’s help by appropriately using our 999 service for life-threatening or serious emergencies only, and to contact NHS 111 online or by phone for urgent medical problems, or utilise local urgent treatment centres, GPs and pharmacies.

Critical incident message issued on Monday, 11 July:

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) has declared a critical incident today (Monday, 11 July) due to current pressures on our services.

We continue to prioritise our response to those patients with life-threatening and serious emergencies but, due to the current levels of pressure we are seeing, there will be delays in responding to other patients with less urgent needs who are assessed as requiring an ambulance response.

We are asking patients to help us at this time by seeking alternative treatment or advice via NHS 111 online or by calling 111, local urgent care centres or speaking to their GP or local pharmacist.

We are also asking people not to call 999 back to ask about an estimated time unless the patient’s condition has changed. This keeps the line free for someone who may need urgent assistance.

For people calling 111, please do not hang up and call again as this will send you to the back of the queue.

The declaration of a critical incident enables us to seek further support from our partners and alert the wider healthcare system, as well as the public, to our existing challenges in reaching patients as quickly as we can.

We are experiencing an increasing number of 999 calls into our service, combined with patients calling back if there is a delay in our response to them. As a result, our capacity to take calls is being severely challenged.

This is combined with the challenges of handing patients over to busy hospitals across our region and a rise in COVID infections, as well as other respiratory illnesses, among both staff and in our communities.

This week we are also faced with high temperatures across our region which we know will lead to an increase in demand on our service. All of these issues combined are impacting on our ability to respond to patients.

We would like to thank everyone for your support during this difficult time and we will post further updates on both our social media channels and website.