Ambulance chiefs in Yorkshire have been forced to use emergency measures to deal with “unprecedented” demand for 999 services.
Extra staff were drafted in as snow and ice and the Christmas holidays led to a 30 per cent increase in calls for help for the most seriously ill and injured.
Calls to the NHS 111 hotline for urgent problems soared by 56 per cent at the weekend compared to 2013, with nearly 20,000 people ringing for help.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service’s director of operations, David Macklin, warned demand was unlikely to ease over New Year.
He said: “Our staff and volunteers across all areas have been brilliant over the extended Christmas period.
“Snow and icy conditions on top of an increased demand for our most urgent calls has meant that they have had to work above and beyond their normal hours, often without breaks.
“We have had to strictly prioritise to ensure the people who most needed our help received it.
“This has meant that some people have not got the response they expected or wanted but I am sure they will understand that patients with life-threatening illnesses and serious injuries should be cared for first.”