South East Coast Ambulance Service declares ‘critical incident’

Ambulance staff have faced growing pressures (Photo Secamb)

South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) has declared a ‘critical incident’ following more than a week of sustained pressure across 999 and 111 services.

The decision, taken yesterday (December 19) is due to the pressure which has  significantly impacted the service’s ability to respond to patients.

In a statement Secamb say: “We would like to thank all our staff and volunteers for their hard work and commitment in recent days in what continue to be extremely challenging circumstances.

“We urge the public to continue to call 999 in life-threatening emergencies as we prioritise our response to our most seriously ill and injured patients.

“People can continue to support us by seeking help and advice from alternatives including via NHS 111 Online at, their own GP or by speaking to a pharmacist.

“Declaring a Critical Incident provides us with additional oversight and enables us to explore options including mutual aid, while focusing all efforts on frontline patient care.

“The situation will be kept under close review.”

Staff in the service who are members of the GMB union are also due to take strike action on 21 December and the 28 December.


    • Ultimately it comes down to money. Money is always the last thing they mention but the first thing on their mind. Obviously things need to be improved, but you are going to let people die and let down our loved ones because you want more money. You are disgrace and anyone supporting this kind of behaviour shame on you! I pray everyone stays safe while this shameful act of negligence is happening

      • Trete, the strike’s not ’till tomorrow. This “critical incident” is the new normal following decades of Tory misrule.
        I wonder what senior SECamb managers have been doing while the service descended to this desperate state?
        Government has, at best, sat by as they saw SECamb suffer from cuts and privatisation by stealth.
        It is wrong to blame striking staff for deciding enough is enough and wanting to do something about it. The commitment and bravery of SECamb staff is beyond laudable. If they don’t strike how else can they mark the appalling state of the service?
        The fault is, front and centre, Tory government – corrupt, freeloading profiteerers one and all!

        • Spot on, Garry. The ambulance workers and nurses are some of the most selfless people around, committed to helping society be as healthy as it can. To deride them as selfish money-grabbers totally misrepresents the situation and plays into the hands of this atrocious government. I wish them well in their endeavours and will support them in any way I can to help ensure a good future for our NHS which is on its knees right now due to so many years of Tory greed.

        • Using your own people as sacrifices to get higher wages isn’t justifiable in any situation.

          Probably still think they are heroes from the scamdemic

          • They’re not striving for higher wages.
            They’re after what they should have, had the government given them reasonable pay rises over the past ten years. As it is, they’re about 5% below parity.
            Anyway, the £350,000,000 a week we get from not being in the EU should help a bit.

  1. If you actually read the article before sputtering chunks of gammon all over your screen in incredulous outrage.. you’d see that the strikes aren’t until tomorrow (and the week after) and that the impact has been from people calling ambulances when it isn’t a life-threatening emergency.
    Over a decade of deliberate underfunding and part-privatisation is to blame, not workers. Strikes are why we have fundamental rights as workers and I fully, unequivocally support them

  2. The Limes Surgery now has 2 GPs. They need 7 or 8. Not sure why people who need a GP appointment feel that an ambulance is an alternative, better to go to A&E at QEQM, they have an add-on area called … Ambulatory Care I think. But yep, this is an awful crisis situation all round. And while I wholeheartedly support NHS workers on strike, I dread the prospect of bad outcomes for anyone who cannot get the care they need.

    • The problem is, people are putting off trying to contact their GP, as it is so difficult… and then they become so ill that they need to go to A&E, if only for peace of mind. We know for a fact that cancers, heart problems, etc were missed during Covid, and I fear that is still happening now.

      • Yep, agree with you. There does not seem to be much discussion about the even worse public health crisis that must be brewing given all the obstacles to diagnosis and treatment. I have a few health issues, could do with advice about some of them but that’s not going to happen unless things deteriorate further and maybe not even then. And so, so many are in a considerably more precarious position than I am. It’s scary this, it’s unprecedented.
        I do think that the nurses and ambulance staff need decent pay and decent conditions. Both are vital to attract new staff. But unfortunately things are not that simple, the NHS in its present form is unsustainable and, also, there is not the political will to implement innovative and ambitious changes and improvements that could lower costs.

        • I understand your concerns, Carina, but, actually, I don’t think that there has been a lack of “political will to implement innovative and ambitious changes.”
          In fact, for decades , under both the Tories and Blair’s Labour, there has been a culture of superficial “radical” reorganisations , disrupting normal working and dreaded by the staff as yet another politicians whim.
          But, in the end, one single innovation has dominated all others—-privatisation.
          Yes, there remains a national body called the NHS, but it is being hollowed out with services here and there ,bit by bit, being contracted out to private businesses. The ambulance service is a hotch potch of public and private bodies.
          As the number of nurses reaches new lows, NHS managers are forced to go to privately- run nursing agencies to employ temporary agency staff to fill the gaps. Who are these “agency nurses”? Well, they are the same nurses, trained by the NHS, who had been working on the wards in previous years. But they leave, exhausted and frustrated by the poor wages.
          Eventually, of course, some return on better wages as “Agency Nurses”. But this time, as well as paying the extra wages of the agency staff, the NHS managers will have to allocate huge sums to cover the costs and profits of the private agencies that “supplied” the “new” nurses, as if the agencies magically created nurses where there had been none before.
          The NHS is not just underfunded by government, it is being drained of money by swarms of private “providers” who cluster round ,sucking it dry by “supplying” staff and facilities which were trained or originally created by the NHS. But now, by inventing a company called something like “East Kent Medical Innovations”(I made that name up!), local business types can employ the very staff that the NHS desperately needs, pay them a bit more than the NHS, and get an NHS contract to supply whatever the NHS was supplying before, but can’t anymore as it doesn’t have the staff!!!
          If the nurses, and others, win a decent pay rise, they will stay with the NHS and won’t drain away to these parasitical “private providers”.
          With sufficient staff, the NHS will be able to provide the services we expect. And, unless the ideological “privatisers”, who infest both Tory and Labour and Lib Dem Parties, get their hands on the NHS managers throats again, we can hope that there will be no need to drain funds away paying private companies to do what we can do ourselves.

          • I hope you’re right about better-paid nurses and other NHS staff staying with NHS and reducing the money drain to the private sector. Lazy of me to use the phrase ‘innovative and ambitious changes’ which sounds like government new-speak. I meant TRULY innovative and ambitious changes and, indeed, we have seen few if any of those.
            Some privatisation is probably inevitable. But so far it has usually been covert and poor value for money. I’m thinking of PFI, for example. My understanding is that it tied health trusts into ongoing spending on outside contractors and services while all that was heralded at the time was the prospect of new buildings.
            I cannot see much political will to make the NHS truly sustainable, cynicism and headline-grabbing meddling rule the day.

  3. This morning as I picked up my newspaper, I glanced at the Rabid Right Wing press headlines, and was shocked to see they are trying the same old blaming the victims as they did in the 70’s! Screaming abuse at ambulance medics, nurses, and other public sector workers, will back fire on the Tory press barons! All the strikes are because public sectors workers have been having their pay cut year after year after year! Nurses need at least a 20% increase to bring them back to what their earnings were ten years ago!

    Many NHS, and public sector workers are having to go to food banks, and are struggling with rent, mortgage, and energy payments. I have just read in my newspaper today that 120,710 children in temporary accommodation don’t even have a bed to sleep in! This is what ten or more years of Tory government has done! They have turned us into a 3rd World Country, and now they are trying to make public sectors workers pay for their Micky Mouse economics, including the failure of Brexit!

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