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Ambulance warning after record demand

09 July 2021

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is warning the public it must prioritise critically ill patients – as it continues to experience very high demand.

SWASFT had its busiest week on record last week, responding to a total of 22,041 incidents during the seven days up until Sunday.

It has experienced a significant increase in demand following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The Trust 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.

SWASFT is reminding people only to call the emergency number if someone is seriously injured or ill and their life may be at risk. 

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

A South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) spokesperson 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.”


  1. People should call 999 for an ambulance 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.
  2. People with non-life threatening but urgent medical problems should contact NHS 111.
  3. Inappropriate use of the 999 service puts unnecessary additional pressure on limited ambulance resources, and can delay emergency care to those most in need.
  4. More than half of 999 incidents dealt with by SWASFT are closed without the patient needing to be taken by ambulance to an emergency department.

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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