Thousands of London’s 999 calls answered by other regions – Health Service Journal



According to internal data, obtained by HSJ, London Ambulance Service Trust redirected more than 12,800 emergency 999 calls to other ambulance trusts across the country. This includes just over 1,000 category one calls, which are those deemed immediately life-threatening.

LAS has faced immense pressure recently due to the covid-19 pandemic. Calls to its service have reached between 8,000 and 8,500 per day. Using this figure, HSJ has calculated  it redirected around one in 10 of its calls in the last two weeks.

Additionally, NHS England data shows LAS received 8,349 category one calls during December. Comparing these figures to the redirect data, HSJ calculates around just over a fifth of the trust’s category one calls are now being answered by other services. However, the calls will have likely been diverted before they were categorised. 

The leaked data showed South West Ambulance Service Foundation Trust has so far provided the most aid, receiving 2,667 calls since 30 December. 

LAS has also been receiving support from non-NHS organisations, including St Johns Ambulance and the London Fire Brigade. There have also been reports of police officers driving ambulances in London, after London mayor Sadiq Khan declared a “critical incident” in the capital last week.

Mutual aid between ambulance trusts often occurs at times of pressure, and HSJ understands high levels of mutual aid usually happen during major incidents, such as terror attacks. 

However, several sources have said it is incredibly unusual for such a sustained level of support to be provided over such a long period of time. One source called it “unprecedented”, although another added the level of aid offered was not yet “concerning”. 

It is not possible to compare the mutual aid offered this winter to that of previous winters as this data is not published.

Ambulance Trust
Total 999 calls answered for LAS since 30 December
Category 1 calls
CARD (cardiac arrest) calls

South Western Ambulance Foundation Trust 
2,667
445
28

West Midlands Ambulance Service Foundation Trust
2,278
127
87

East Midlands Ambulance Service Trust
2,264
172
37

North West Ambulance Service Trust
1,984
151
11

East of England Ambulance Service Trust
1,094
47
4

Yorkshire Ambulance Service Trust
1,070
96
19

South Central Ambulance Service Foundation Trust
936
39
27

South East Coast Ambulance Service Foundation Trust
343
12
0

Welsh Ambulance Trust
151
5
0

North East Ambulance Service Foundation Trust
36
0
1

Scottish Ambulance Service
0
0
0

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Care Trust
0
0
0

Other ambulance services are also facing high volumes of calls. Two weeks ago, WMAS reported experiencing its busiest day ever, with 5,383 calls. SECAMB has also declared several business continuity incidents over the last few weeks.

LAS was approached for comment.