South Central Ambulance Service declared a critical incident due to “extreme pressures”.

In the early hours of this morning the 999-ambulance service took to social media to announce that it will be prioritising patients with life-threatening injuries and illnesses.

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) said its staff are working “extremely hard to respond to calls and manage the situation”.

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SCAS posted on Twitter what is means to announce a critical incident.

SCAS said: “Declaring a critical incident means we are unable to focus our resources on those patients most in need and communicates the pressure we are under to our patients and health systems partners.”

Patients who do not require an emergency ambulance service have been told they could be asked to make their own way to hospital.

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SCAS said: “If your situation is not a life-threatening or serious emergency then we will discuss your needs and provide advice. If your call does not require an emergency ambulance response, then you could be asked to make your own way to hospital.”

The ambulance service has also asked people to support them in this hard time by using their services wisely and using the 111 service for urgent and medical advice where possible and appropriate to do so.

SCAS provides 999 pandemic response to Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Hampshire and Buckinghamshire.