Ambulances services are now struggling to effectively and safely deliver services.
All ten ambulance services across England have now declared a “critical incident” due to unrelenting pressure across NHS services.
It comes as the current heatwave intensifies only adding to existing pressures on services.
Resource Escalation Action Plan (REAP) Level 4, equivalent to Opel 4 or “Black Alert” for hospitals, is declared when an ambulance service can no longer effectively deliver a service due, typically due to a major incident.
One ambulance working for West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) was forced to wait 24 hours just to hand over a patient as hospitals also struggle to cope with demand.
Earlier this year WMAS warned it was at risk of collapsing entirely this summer.
A London Ambulance Service (LAS) spokesman said it had moved to REAP 4 “as a result of a sustained demand on both our 999 and 111 services, and with hot weather set to continue over the next few days”.
The Government could be forced to declare a “National Emergency” if healthcare services are compromised due to the heat.
Speaking to ITV News Martin Flaherty, Managing Director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE), warned services are so stretched they are operating at a level usually reserved for major incidents.
“Severe delays in ambulance crews being able to hand over their patients at many hospital emergency departments are having a very significant impact on the ambulance sector’s ability to respond to patients as quickly as we would like to, because our crews and vehicles are stuck outside those hospitals,” he said.
“Added to this, we have a number of staff absences due to a rise in Covid cases as well as additional pressure caused by the current hot weather, which is making things even tougher for our staff and of course the patients they are caring for.”
Shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting, said: “Twelve years of Conservative mismanagement has left our ambulance service in crisis… Patients are left for far longer than is safe and lives are being lost as a result.”