National Ambulance Service brings in surge capacity

Staff told service is facing ‘major pressure’ due to increase in demand and Covid-19

The National Ambulance Service (NAS) has four levels of surge escalation, and moved to Level 3 on Thursday. File photograph:  Alan Betson

The National Ambulance Service (NAS) has four levels of surge escalation, and moved to Level 3 on Thursday. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

The National Ambulance Service has moved to introduce surge capacity, following “major pressure” on the service in recent days, in part due to Covid-19.

The ambulance service has sought staffing support from external providers, as part of an effort to deal with the increased demand.

The National Ambulance Service (NAS) has four levels of surge escalation, and moved to Level 3 on Thursday.

In a message to staff, management notified paramedics the service was moving to a Level 3 surge escalation, in response to “major pressure”. The message, seen by The Irish Times, called for any staff who were available to work overtime to contact the service’s workforce planning unit.

In recent days the service has called for crews in north Leinster to help provide extra cover across all local areas, due to staffing pressure, according to internal messages.

A Health Service Executive (HSE) spokeswoman confirmed the ambulance service had a “surge plan” in place, to ensure consistency in patient safety at times of “escalating pressure”.

“Today, in response to significant levels of demand, which is also affected by Covid-19, NAS has escalated its surge response to Level 3 which includes seeking support from external service providers,” the spokeswoman said.

The ambulance service called on the public to consider “all care options available and only call 999 if it is an emergency,” during the period of increased pressure, the HSE spokeswoman said.