SWASFT Call handler web

‘Don’t call 999 unless it’s an emergency’ – ambulance staff in bank holiday plea

PEOPLE are being asked to use the right healthcare service this Bank Holiday weekend, as the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT)  continues to experience very high demand.

Staff are responding to around 3,000 emergency incidents per day, which is the equivalent of more than two new emergencies every minute.

Numbers are 15% higher than the same time last year, due to unprecedented high-level demand on NHS services in the South West.

Various factors are thought to be contributing to the rise in demand, including more people socialising and an increase in Covid-19 transmission rates in the community.

A spokesperson for the trust said: “Bank Holiday weekends tend to generate more 999 calls to the Clinical Hubs, especially when the weather is warm and sunny, because more people go out and about and visit the region.


“SWASFT is continuing to prioritise treating the most seriously injured and unwell patients, and is reminding people only to call 999 in genuine, life-threatening emergencies. These include patients who are unconscious, experiencing breathing difficulties, heavy bleeding, severe burns, or having a severe allergic reaction.

“People should not ring back to ask for an estimated arrival time, and should only call back if the patient’s condition worsens or they no longer need an ambulance. This helps keep phone lines free for others in need.

“Patients who need urgent medical help or advice are encouraged to visit 111.nhs.uk or to call 111, which is free and available 24/7. This will ensure they get the right care, and the ambulance service can focus on those most in need.

“For ongoing or non-urgent medical concerns or if they need medicines, people should contact their local GP surgery or a local pharmacy.”

999 call handler Ella said: “Before you ring 999, please think – is this a life-threatening emergency? Is someone completely unconscious that you can’t wake them up? Are they having significant difficulty breathing? Are they having an uncontrollable bleed? Do they have chest pain or stroke symptoms? If that’s the situation, please call us straight away and we will help you.

“If it’s not, please use one of the other NHS services, such as 111, to ensure the patient gets the most appropriate care, and to make sure we’re able to help other people in the South West who needs us.”

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