London Ambulance Service has issued an emergency alert after high Covid-19 rates and heatwave weather has sparked a deluge of 999 calls.

The ambulance service say they are enduring the busiest Julys in history, and has advised the public to only call 999 if it's a serious medical emergency.

LAS say a typical 'busy' day sees them pick up around 5,500 calls, but on Monday they received a total of 7,592 calls.

The summer months has seen a gradual increase in call numbers, but the ending of lockdown restrictions, scorching weather and high and rising coronavirus infection rates has hit July hard.

Monday's extreme resulted n a 'business continuity incident' being declared on Monday afternoon, alerting hospitals of the level of demand facing LAS.

LAS gold commander Natasha Wills told the Standard: “We did struggle on Monday. From about 10am, we had over 400 calls an hour coming into our control room. Routinely we are looking at 250. We started to really struggle at 350.

“From my perspective, the incident needed to be declared. We needed to signal to everybody the pressure we were under.”

News Shopper:

Ms Wills said: “We are always busy when the weather heats up and, with the lifting of restrictions, there are a lot more people out and about.

“Our call volume has gone up. We have seen a significant increase in demand for our services. We are trying to work out if this is the ‘new normal’.

“The 111 website is where people will get good advice. Sitting waiting for an ambulance might not be what they need.”

Last week cycle paramedics brought two cardiac arrest patients “back from the dead” after using the defibrillators carried among the 75kg of medical kit on their mountain bikes.

One of the patients, who was resuscitated by cycle paramedic Carol Summers, was in her second day in a new job.

In a statement, the LAS said demand had "risen significantly" and there was at times between 7,000 and even 8,000 999 emergency calls in a 24-hour period.

News Shopper:

"Our frontline ambulance crews, 999 and 111 call takers and the many other teams who ensure we can respond to Londoners are working extremely hard, often in very challenging circumstances.

"To help us reach patients who need us as quickly as we can, please only call 999 if it’s a serious medical emergency.

With 7,230 calls to 999 and 4,198 on Tuesday, LAS say it's essential to help them "ensure we are able to speak to and treat the most seriously ill and injured patients as quickly as possible."

They added the following advice: For urgent medical help when it’s not an emergency, please go to NHS111 online first.

If your medical concern is urgent – but you don’t need an emergency ambulance – and you use the 111 service, you’ll get the support you need.

If you call 999 but it’s not a life-threatening emergency, you will be waiting longer for an ambulance as we have to make sure our control room teams and ambulance crews speak to and treat the most seriously ill or injured patients.

Calling 999 doesn’t mean we’ll definitely send you an ambulance. We’ll provide the most appropriate response, which may be a clinical telephone assessment or referral to another NHS service. Please only call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured.

If you no longer need an ambulance or you can make your own way to hospital, please call us back on 999 to let us know. Our crews can then be redirected to another patient who needs us.

However, please do not ring us back to ask how long the crews will be. This could delay us speaking to a caller about a seriously ill or injured patient. Only call us back if the patient’s condition worsens or they no longer need our help.

In warmer weather over the summer, it’s really important you keep hydrated: so please drink plenty of water.

If you’re drinking alcohol, it’s especially important to make sure you also drink lots of water. Please be sensible when drinking so you don’t need to call us for help.

Thank you for your support.