The region's ambulance service has issued a warning after its busiest week on record.

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is warning the public that it must prioritise critically ill patients.

Last week, the Trust had its busiest week on record, responding to a total of 22,041 incidents in the seven days leading up until Sunday.

Since the easing of lockdown restrictions, the service has experienced a significant increase in demand.

It has dealt with more than 20,000 incidents per week since the start of May, compared to around 18,500 incidents per week in early April, amounting to around 2,650 emergency incidents a day.

SWASFT is urging people to only call 999 if someone is seriously injured or ill and their life may be at risk.

It is also asking people not to call back for an estimated arrival time so that others can get through to its 999 Control Room.

The Trust says that more than half of 999 incidents it deals with are closed without the patient needing to be taken to an emergency department by ambulance.

A spokesperson from the Trust said: “Our service is currently experiencing very high demand, which means we must prioritise critically ill patients.

“We are asking the public only to call 999 in a genuine medical emergency when somebody is seriously injured or ill and their life is at risk, and for other medical concerns we encourage patients to contact NHS 111 for advice and support.

“Please do not call us back to ask for an estimated arrival time, and only call back if the patient’s condition worsens or you no longer need our help.”

The public should only call 999 for an ambulance in a medical emergency, when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk - for example, if someone has stopped breathing, is unconscious or has serious bleeding.

People with non-life threatening but urgent medical problems should contact NHS 111, by either visiting or calling 111.

Inappropriate use of the 999 service puts unnecessary additional pressure on limited ambulance resources, and can delay emergency care to those most in need.

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust covers an area of 10,000 square miles, including Cornwall, Isles of Scilly, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Bristol, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, amounting to 20% of mainland England.


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