Paramedics pushed to the limit by thousands of festive emergencies

Ambulances outside Wigan Infirmary
Ambulances outside Wigan Infirmary

More than 5,300 999 calls for local paramedic aid were made on New Year’s Day alone.

The festive period is traditionally very busy for the North West Ambulance Service and it has now reported just how much demand was faced by its staff and volunteers.

Christmas Day saw a seven per cent rise in the number of calls compared to 2018 and the day started in an extra special way with a baby being born in an ambulance just after midnight. Incidents on New Year’s Eve included street fighting in Merseyside, firework injuries in Bolton and assaults in Lancashire.

Director of operations Ged Blezard said: “As always, we were well prepared for the spike in calls over the Christmas period with months of planning and additional resources on key dates.

“I would like to thank everyone for their support during this busy time. We must prioritise life-threatening emergencies which can mean that patients in a less serious condition do experience a wait. We have been able to reduce wait times as much as possible by utilising our clinical hub providing medical advice over the phone and treating patients in the community wherever possible, reducing unnecessary A&E admissions.

“Alongside our dedicated staff, we are also very grateful for the support from our community first responders over Christmas and New Year. We have had the highest number of sign-ons from them than ever before and their presence is invaluable. The fact that they are volunteers and give their time freely makes their contribution even more commendable.”

NHS 111 has also been extremely busy, the busiest day being Saturday December 28 with 12,460 calls: one every seven seconds.

Mr Blezard added: “As we head into January and February and the temperature plummets, we are expecting the high demand to continue and ask for the public to continue to help us by only calling 999 in life-threatening emergencies.”