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.
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.