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Welcome to SWASFT

June 2021

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust is experiencing extreme pressures

1 June 2021

 A South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said: “Over the weekend we experienced extreme pressures on our service. 

“Whilst this pressure has eased slightly over Bank Holiday Monday, we are still very busy. We are encouraging people to choose well and only dial 999 in a life-threatening emergency and our hardworking ambulance crews, control room staff and volunteers will continue to prioritise anyone who is critically ill.

“If you have a non-life-threatening but urgent medical problem, please call NHS 111 who can advise you on the most appropriate place for care and also call an ambulance if necessary.”

30 May 2021

A South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said: “If you have a non-life-threatening but urgent medical problem, please call NHS 111 who can advise you on the most appropriate place for care and also call an ambulance if necessary.

“Our hardworking ambulance crews, control room staff and volunteers will continue to prioritise anyone who is critically ill and ask that you help us help you by only calling 999 in a life threatening emergency.” 

Notes to editors

  • A life-threatening medical emergency is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk. We are encouraging people in the South West to seek help from the most appropriate service. If you have a non-life-threatening but urgent medical problem, please think 111 first – for example, fractured small bones, sprains, or minor burns.

  • The service responded to an average of 2,913 incidents a day last week, compared with 2,816 incidents a day between 12 April and 16 May.

  • Yesterday [Saturday 29th May] activity was at nearly 3,200 incidents, the highest level of activity in 2021 and we are expecting to see similar numbers today [Sunday 30th May].

  • For comparison, the Trust normally deals with around 2,650 emergency incidents a day. 

Bodycams to boost ambulance crews’ safety

Wednesday 2 June

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is rolling out body-worn cameras in a bid to reduce violence and aggression against colleagues.

All frontline ambulance crews in Cornwall & Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Bristol, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire will be able to wear the cameras, following a significant increase in verbal abuse and physical assaults from patients and other members of the public.

The devices will be used from this summer for three years, and could be used to provide crucial evidence for prosecution cases against offenders. 

The project is part of a national rollout of body-worn cameras intended to prevent attacks on ambulance colleagues.

It comes after successful trials in London and the North West.

Paramedic Mike Jones, who is SWASFT’s Violence Reduction Lead, said: “We are delighted to be able to provide body-worn cameras to better protect all of our crews throughout the South West.

“Sadly our people continue to face a high and rising level of unacceptable behaviour while trying to provide emergency care to patients. This is having a profound and lasting impact on them, their colleagues and loved ones.

“We hope these cameras will deter many people from abusing our people, and know they could also help to prosecute those who do cause harm.

“They should also make our crews feel safer at work, and be able to do their jobs without fear of attack. 

“Please respect our people, and help them to help you.”

SWASFT colleagues reported 1,917 incidents of violence and aggression from patients and other members of the public during the 12 months until 23 May 2021.

The figures included 588 verbal abuse incidents, 474 aggressive behaviour incidents, and 345 physical assaults. 

They represent a 38% increase compared to 1,387 incidents reported during the previous year.

The Government announced in the Queen’s Speech on 11 May that it is protecting emergency service workers by doubling the maximum sentence for assaulting people in the emergency services from 12 months to 2 years.

Ambulance service issues G7 advice

Tuesday 8 June

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is advising people to expect disruption in Cornwall during this week’s G7 summit.

The event will see leaders from various countries, including the UK, gather together in Cornwall from 11 to 13 June. They will discuss global challenges such as the economy, Covid-19 (coronavirus), trade, green technology and the environment.

Devon & Cornwall Police will command the largest policing and security operation in its history for the summit.

With unique security considerations, the event will bring a level of inevitable disruption to the local communities, particularly around the four official locations of Carbis Bay, St Ives, Falmouth and Newquay.

People are encouraged to plan travel in advance, due to the likely impact on the transport network within the county.

Cornwall’s healthcare system has been experiencing increased demand for services recently, with people travelling to the county following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

SWASFT will be providing additional resources in the area to ensure it can manage the increased demand it expects the summit to generate.

The public are being asked to think 111 first if they need urgent healthcare, and only call 999 in a life-threatening emergency to help everyone get the care they need.

Wayne Darch, SWASFT Assistant Director of Operations (EPRR and Specialist Practice), said: “We are honoured to be supporting the safe delivery of the G7 summit by providing frontline colleagues, as well as strategic and tactical assistance.

“We deal with increased pressure on our service regularly, and we are confident of maintaining a safe and effective service to our patients during the summit.

“Please think twice before calling 999 for an ambulance, and make appropriate use of other healthcare providers such as NHS 111.”

Anyone should call 999 for an ambulance or visit A&E in a medical emergency. This is 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.

Those with non-life threatening but urgent medical problems should contact NHS 111 online or by phone. For example, broken or fractured bones, sprains, or burns.

They should not attend a minor injury unit (MIU), or urgent treatment centre (UTC) without contacting 111 first.

Anyone who needs non-urgent healthcare or advice should contact their registered GP surgery, and visitors to Cornwall are reminded to bring any regular medication.

Inappropriate use of NHS services puts unnecessary additional pressure on limited resources, and can delay care for those most in need.


  1. The UK assumed responsibility for the G7 Presidency in 2021. As part of this, Prime Minister Boris Johnson chose to host the main G7 leaders’ summit in Cornwall between 11 and 13 June.
  1. World leaders from the G7 – the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Africa and the US, will gather in Carbis Bay and St Ives to discuss global challenges such as the economy, defeating and building back from coronavirus, trade, green technology and the environment. They will be joined by the leaders of Australia, India, South Korea and the EU who will attend as guests.
  1. Public Health England will be putting strict Covid-secure measures in place, including daily testing, to ensure the health and wellbeing of all staff, attendees and the public. All domestic Covid-19 guidelines will be in force throughout the meeting, including social distancing measures.
  1. SWASFT treats almost half of its patients over the phone or at the scene of incidents, without needing to take them to hospital.
  1. Visit for details of late night pharmacy opening times and health information.

Don’t delay: learn how to save lives

16 June 2021

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is urging people to learn what to do if someone collapses or stops breathing normally.

Only around 1 in 10 people survive a sudden cardiac arrest in the UK, although bystanders can make a big difference if they take the right action fast.

According to Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK), “every person should learn to provide the basic skills to save a life”.

People should call 999 immediately if someone is unconscious or not breathing normally. Emergency call handlers will support them to begin safe CPR if required, and to use a defibrillator if one is available. 

Amy Sainsbury, SWASFT Senior Clinical Lead, said: “Sadly many cardiac arrests happen every day, and they often involved people’s loved ones. So it’s vital that everyone knows what to do when someone collapses or stops breathing normally.

“Our Saving Lives Together campaign encourages people to learn CPR, so they can have the confidence to put it into action if required.

“When someone has a sudden, unexpected cardiac arrest, doing nothing is the only way of making their situation worse.

“It’s vital to recognise when someone needs urgent help, call 999 for an ambulance, and be prepared for the call handler to help you to start CPR and use a defibrillator.

“These actions really could be the difference between someone living or dying. By working together we can give people the best-possible chance of survival.”

Denmark footballer Christian Eriksen had a cardiac arrest during a Euro 2020 match on 12 June. But he was successfully resuscitated on the pitch, due to the early recognition of the emergency followed by rapid CPR and defibrillation.

There are around 60,000 cardiac arrests out of hospital every year in the UK, and around 80% of these occur in the home. A person’s chance of survival decreases by up to 10% every minute without CPR and defibrillation.

Public access defibrillators are used in fewer than one in 10 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, according to RCUK, even though there is an initially shockable rhythm in approximately one in four patients.

SWASFT recently joined the national defibrillator network The Circuit to help bystanders access the nearest available device and give patients a better chance of survival.

Rob Horton, SWASFT Responder Manager, said: “We are delighted to be one of the first UK ambulances to join The Circuit, which will further improve our ability to save lives together across the South West.” 

“The British Heart Foundation in conjunction with the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives has driven this project to share defibrillator locations and improve availability of access across the country at the time of need.

“We have been working hard to ensure our own defibrillators and those owned privately are added to the database, which is already being used in our 999 Control Rooms.”

It is expected that all UK ambulance trusts will join the network by September 2021.

About heart attacks and cardiac arrests:

  1. A heart attack is a serious medical emergency when in which the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot.
  2. A sudden cardiac arrest is an urgent medical emergency when the heart stops beating, abruptly and without warning. When this happens blood stops pumping round the body and the brain is starved of oxygen. That causes the person to fall unconscious and stop breathing. A heart attack may cause a cardiac arrest.
  3. When someone collapses and stops breathing normally, it is important to quickly call 999, perform hands-only CPR and use a defibrillator. Taking these steps can significantly increase the patient’s chance of survival.  

NHS 73rd birthday - Saying a big thank you

 24 June 2021

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is saying a big thank you to its colleagues, partners and the public – as the NHS celebrates its 73rd birthday.

More than seven decades after the NHS was founded on 5 July 1948, SWASFT is expressing gratitude to everyone whose dedication, help and support has enabled it to meet the challenges of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and other pressures.

SWASFT is particularly thankful to its large team of operational and support colleagues, as well as its army of volunteer Community First Responders (CFRs).

It is also especially grateful to its fire and rescue service partners – who have directly assisted frontline teams by driving ambulances and providing much-needed assistance to patients – as well as other emergency services partners it has worked alongside. 

Additionally it is appreciative of the millions of other key workers in the NHS and elsewhere – from hospital doctors to teachers, and from shop workers to refuse collectors – who have kept the country running and helped reduce the spread of the virus.

Will Warrender, Chief Executive of SWASFT, said: “As we mark the 73rd birthday of the NHS, I would like to say a huge thank you to all of our colleagues and their families, volunteers, partners and everyone else who has supported during the pandemic.

“In the midst of intense and unrelenting pressure, I could not be more proud of the commitment, perseverance and resilience of our people to enable us to continue to deliver excellent patient care across the region.

“I am also particularly grateful to my own team for their dedication and everything they continue to do to serve the public during this challenging time.”

The past 15 months has been extremely challenging for the NHS and the country as a whole, but there has also been hope. In the midst of the pandemic, the NHS has rolled-out the biggest vaccination programme in its history, the fastest in Europe and most precise in the world.

On the evening of Saturday 3 July, local landmarks and iconic buildings across England, including those enlisted as vaccination sites, will be lit up in blue as part of a collective memorial across the country.

The NHS Big Tea will also return on 5 July for communities to thank NHS colleagues and each other for the huge role they have played over the last 15 months. 

South Western Ambulance Charity logo

South Western Ambulance Charity

The South Western Ambulance Charity, founded in 1995, uses gifted monies to benefit those in our communities who use our service and to improve the welfare of the staff and volunteers of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. 

Our charitable support covers Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire including Bristol and Swindon.

If you would like to show your appreciation for the care that you or your loved one has received from us in the form of a charitable donation please visit our online giving website: Donate to South Western Ambulance Charity | Give as you Live Donate