South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is urging members of the public to choose appropriately this Easter Bank Holiday as demand for the ambulance service is expected to increase.
Alternative healthcare options for less serious conditions include; visiting your local pharmacy, visiting a minor injuries unit or NHS walk-in centre, or calling NHS111. You can also find a whole host of information and advice online at http://www.nhs.uk
The Trust is expecting more than 11,000 incidents over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend with many visitors to the region. Devon is expected to be the busiest region with almost 2,600 incidents.
Expected incident volumes by region between Good Friday and Bank Holiday Monday:
Cornwall – 1,200 Devon – 2,600
SWASFT is making more staff and vehicles available to combat the increased demand and is also advising members of the public to stop and think before dialling 999 for an emergency ambulance and to consider alternative treatment options if appropriate.
Examples of when to call 999 include choking, chest pain, stroke, serious blood loss and unconsciousness. Using the ambulance service in the correct way helps the Trust ensure that the most appropriate response is provided to those with a genuine clinical need.
Ken Wenman, Chief Executive of SWASFT, says: “As the first busy Bank Holiday weekend in the south-west approaches, we are predicting increased levels of calls to the 999 emergency ambulance service. With extra staff on duty, round the clock, we’re ready but the truth is we have a finite number of ambulances and highly-trained staff available. This means we will, as always, prioritise and focus on those patients in a time-critical life-threatening condition.
“We’re committed to delivering the right care, in the right place, at the right time for the 5.5 million residents plus the 23 million visitors we serve in our region. But over the Easter break, we’d like to ask the public to stop and think ‘is this an emergency’ before dialling 999.”
Paramedics are also reminding the public to take care if they are visiting coastal regions and to be coast aware when taking families to the beach.
People visiting the south-west this Easter should also remember to bring any essential medicines and stock up on repeat prescriptions before they travel as many pharmacies will have reduced opening hours across the long weekend.
Ken Wenman added: “All our staff out on the road and in the clinical hubs are working extremely hard to deliver the right care to our patients. This Bank Holiday weekend we want to ensure that residents and tourists alike know where to access the most appropriate treatment depending on what is wrong with them.
“There are a wide variety of healthcare services available for a range of conditions and it is really important that people choose well, especially during periods when the demand for the ambulance service is high.”