AMBULANCE call-outs are at record levels, with health bosses saying that last week was the busiest since the service formed in 2006.
Nearly 9,000 potentially life-threatening incidents were reported last week, an increase of 9.4 per cent on this time last year.
Last week saw an extra 2,152 calls, including 1,137 extra ‘red’ incidents – or potentially life-threatening situations.
The situation is ecpexted to continue into the new year.
Ambulances bosses have warned that people who do not have a life-threatening condition can expect to have to wait some time for an ambulance.
North West Ambulance Service had already been struggling to cope with demand, as the service tries to make cuts of £14m.
Problems came to a head this summer when driver Saira Khalid had to be taken to hospital in the back of a fire engine when no paramedics showed up to the scene of a car crash. And in the same month it was claimed the whole of Preston was left with just one local paramedic to cover a busy Saturday night after ambulance staff rang in sick.
NWAS Director of Operations Derek Cartwright said: “The call volume we are currently experiencing is unprecedented and our crews are working extremely hard to reach those who urgently need our help as quickly as possible.
“Because of the rise in activity it is important that we triage our calls thoroughly and there is no doubt that those without life-threatening conditions will find themselves waiting some time for an ambulance response or be advised to seek alternatives.”
Health chiefs have urged people to only dial 999 in an emergency and consider other options such as visiting an NHS walk-in centre or urgent care centre or driving themselves to A&E.