South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is urging people to ‘Make the right call’ this winter by only calling 999 for life-threatening emergencies.
The Trust is expecting a significant increase in 999 calls over the Christmas period and beyond, due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic alongside normal winter pressures.
It expects to deal with almost 3,000 incidents a day during the next month, an increase of around 20 per cent compared to normal, with demand expected to be highest at weekends and on bank holidays.
SWASFT is ensuring it has the right resources in place to manage additional pressure, but is warning people that unnecessary calls could delay responses to those most in need of emergency help.
Will Warrender, Chief Executive of SWASFT, said: “Our people have been working exceptionally hard throughout this year to continue delivering the right care for our patients, and to keep people safe.
“We expect to be very busy throughout the festive period and beyond, and are making sure we have appropriate resources in place to continue responding to patients safely and effectively.
“We will always be there for those who need us, but we must ensure we can reach and treat those with the most life-threatening injuries and illnesses first.
“So I would urge people to ‘Make the right call’ this winter.
“If you’re seriously injured or ill and are in a life-threatening condition, 999 is the right number to call. But in other cases when urgent help is required, do contact NHS 111, and they will be able to assist you.”
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, has severe chest pain, is choking, may be having a stroke, has serious blood loss, or is unconscious.
People who have an urgent medical problem and aren’t sure what to do should contact NHS 111.
Specialist Paramedic Paul Kimberley has recorded a message to explain the various available NHS healthcare options and why it’s vital to think before calling 999.