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UPDATE 1.50pm: Pressure increases on 999 service

To be attributed to Deputy Director of Operations Jason Killens:

“We are now under severe pressure as a result of today’s industrial action, and a significant number of our patients are waiting to be sent an ambulance response.

“As ever, we are continuing to give priority to those people with the most serious or life-threatening illnesses or injuries, and we are sorry for any delays people are facing.

“We are doing all that we can to maintain the safest possible service in very difficult circumstances and are working with unions to try to improve the emergency cover their members are providing.

“Again, Londoners should only dial 999 for an ambulance if somebody’s life is in danger. For example following a serious road traffic collision, if somebody has collapsed and stopped breathing or if somebody has been stabbed or shot.

“There are a range of other healthcare options for people with more minor illnesses or injuries. You can get help or advice from your local pharmacist or GP, or by visiting a walk-in centre, minor injuries unit or urgent care centre or even by making your own way to hospital – going in an ambulance does not mean you will be seen any quicker.”

– Ends –

Notes to editors

  • Some of our staff taking part in industrial action and responding to patients are providing ‘emergency cover’.
  • Around 73 per cent of staff are working in the control room answering calls and dispatching ambulances, and about 58 per cent of staff are either working as normal responding to patients or providing emergency cover.
  • Emergency cover is the level of service that unions and the Service have agreed staff working in frontline roles can provide while still supporting industrial action.
  • Under the emergency cover arrangements agreed with unions, staff who work on the road treating patients will only respond to the most seriously ill and injured patients and will not go to patients with minor conditions such as upset stomachs or cuts and bruises.
  • Staff who work in the control room will still answer 999 calls and dispatch ambulances, but their duties will be limited so they will not carry out a number of administrative functions such as recording turnaround times at hospitals.
  • Our patient transport service that takes people to hospital appointments will operate a reduced service. The only journeys to go ahead as normal will be those for high-dependency patients such as those needing dialysis or cancer care.

For further information about the London Ambulance Service or this news release please contact the communications department on 020 7783 2286.

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