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Access the right emergency care for you this winter


Winter is one of the busiest times of the year for the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) ­– and we need continuing support from the public.

Ambulances must be available for patients who are facing a life-threatening medical emergency. To help with this, we are asking for the public’s support to ensure the service is used correctly.  

You can help by choosing the right service to get the care you need:

  • Use your own medicine cabinet for self-care for issues like grazed knees
  • Visit your local pharmacy to ask for medical advice about minor illnesses
  • Go to your GP for wider health concerns
  • Contact NHS 111 Online for urgent medical advice
  • Visit your local hospital’s Emergency Department in cases of serious illness and injury
  • Call 999 for life-threatening emergencies only.

As the cold weather continues, we are urging the public to stay safe and be sensible:

  • Take care in icy and snowy conditions
  • Get your free flu and Covid vaccinations
  • Check your essential kit for home – put together items to help you survive for three days without power, heat, water and access to the shops
  • Check the weather forecast if you have to travel, charge your mobile phone, stock your vehicle with your essential winter kit, and tell someone where you’re going
  • Look out for vulnerable family, friends and neighbours.

Wayne Darch, Deputy Director of Operations at the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, says: “At times like this, when we are under sustained pressure, it is more important than ever to prioritise patients. We must reach those with life-threatening, urgent injuries and conditions first. Sadly, this does mean we will sometimes have to ask other patients to wait until a crew becomes available.

“Everyone has a part to play in reducing these pressures. We’re working closely with the wider NHS across the region and with individual hospitals so that we can handover patients in good time to reduce handover delays and get our ambulance clinicians back out on the road. And I would like to thank all our colleagues, including those on the road and in our Emergency Operations Centres, who work so hard, day in, day out, to help people and to save lives.”

“If you live in one of the communities we serve, you can help us to help you by choosing the right source of medical help and crucially by calling 999 in a life-threatening emergency only.

“If you have rung us and are then waiting for an ambulance, please don’t call us back to ask when one will arrive; we simply can’t provide that information. Please call 999 again only if the patient’s condition has deteriorated or if they no longer need our help.”

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