May 25, 2022 10.35 am

Ambulance call-outs increase by a fifth compared to pre-pandemic levels

Daily 999 calls remain “higher than at any point during 2019 and 2020”.

East Midlands Ambulance Service call-outs in Lincolnshire rose by more than a fifth compared to pre-pandemic levels, figures showed.

A Freedom of Information request to EMAS revealed that in 2021-22 the service received 274,805 calls for Lincolnshire alone, up 20.66% from the year 2018- 19 (before COVID-19 restrictions), when it recieved 227,749 calls.

Call numbers dropped to 216,486 in 2020-21, during the pandemic, meaning a rise of 26.94% year-on-year.

Numbers were expected to drop during the pandemic as people were asked to avoid using health services other than in severe emergencies.

Sue Cousland, Divisional Director for the Lincolnshire Division of EMAS said: “We urge people to only use 999 in life-threatening and serious emergencies so our call takers in our control rooms can focus on getting ambulance clinicians to patients who need them most.

“We remain incredibly busy, as is the wider NHS system, and we are following our prepared action plan for handling current high levels of demand.”

Bosses have renewed calls for people to use the NHS “wisely” asking them to visit their local pharmacy or call 111 online for advice if issues are not life-threatening.

They said the average number of daily 999 calls currently remained “higher than at any point during 2019 and 2020”.

It comes as wider pressures across the NHS and social care system continue to see handover delays at the county’s hospitals resulting in vehicles potentially waiting hours before they are released for use elsewhere.

Hospital bosses last Tuesday told Lincolnshire County Council about some of their plans to improve health services in the county in a post-pandemic world.

EMAS bosses said they would continue to work together to identify ways of improving patient flow to reduce the negative impact on patient safety and wellbeing.

A spokesman said: “To support the busy hospitals in our region, and to ensure our patients receive care in the most appropriate place for them, our highly skilled and experienced ambulance clinicians work hard to find suitable alternative treatment pathways and therefore convey fewer patients to hospital.”