North West Ambulance Service is experiencing an unprecedented rise in the number of seriously ill patients throughout the region - and  is warning this could lead to delays for those with less serious conditions.

The service has seen an increase in May and June of nearly 7% in all "Red" calls - meaning a patient is in a life-threatening condition -  compared to the same period last year.

Director of operations Derek Cartwright said: “These patients need our help urgently, they have life-threatening conditions and it is these people we need to reach within eight minutes.

"We’re seeing people with conditions such as respiratory and heart conditions which can exacerbated by the warm weather and in this period, we have also had the World Cup and four bank holidays, which brings incidents involving alcohol."

He said this rise has had an effect on response times and the service has fallen short of its target of 75% for the first quarter and has reported a performance of 73.5%.

Mr Cartwright added: “We understand that to everyone who rings 999, their problem is an urgent one. 

"However, we have to prioritise our resources and while we strive to reach everyone as quickly as possible, it is likely that those with less serious conditions may have to wait longer for an ambulance.”

Patients are advised to consider walk-in centres, GPs or their local pharmacies before dialling 999 if their condition is not life-threatening.