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South Central Ambulance Service declares critical incident with plea not to call 999 unless life-threatening or serious emergency

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"EXTREME" pressures have caused South Central Ambulance Service to ask people not to call it for help – unless it is an emergency or life-threatening situation.

SCAS has declared what is known as a "critical incident" and asked patients only to dial 999 if it is a life-threatening situation or a serious emergency.

Otherwise people "should make their own way to hospital", the service stated.

South Central Ambulance Service has blamed the move on a high number of call-outs
South Central Ambulance Service has blamed the move on a high number of call-outs

Announcing the move on Twitter on Wednesday, the ambulance service said: "SCAS has tonight declared a critical incident due to extreme pressures across our services.

"Our staff are working extremely hard to respond to calls and manage the situation and we continue to prioritise those patients with life-threatening injuries and illnesses."

The move of making the declaration means the service can focus its resources on patients most in need and communities and comes because of pressures SCAS is under as well as its partners, SCAS said in another Tweet.

It has blamed the move on a high number of call outs, a rise in Covid-19 cases and in the numbers of its own staff that are suffering with coronavirus.

People should use the service "wisely", SCAS urged, pointing out that alternative to 999 were emergency departments, minor injury and first aid units, urgent care and walk in centres.

SCAS stressed it had "implemented a number of actions" to deal with what was a "particularly difficult period" and its staff and volunteers would continue to "work extremely hard" to respond to calls.

If staff deemed a person's situation was not life-threatening or serious, they would "discuss" a patient's needs and "provide advice on the most appropriate option for them", SCAS added.

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