Ambulance service warning after busiest week on record as lockdown lifts

·2-min read


South Western Ambulance Service has seen the highest demand on record this week. (PA)
South Western Ambulance Service has seen the highest demand on record this week. (PA)

An ambulance service has warned it had the busiest week on record after the government eased coronavirus lockdown measures.

South Western Ambulance Service workers said it responded to 22,041 incidents in the seven days before last Sunday.

The service is warning callers that it "must prioritise critically ill patients".

It added that "it has experienced a significant increase in demand following the easing of lockdown restrictions."

Read: Government denies vaccine dose interval will be cut to four weeks amid falling jab rates

The trust, which covers about 20% of mainland England, has been dealing with more than 20,000 incidents per week since the start of May. 

This compares to about 18,500 per week in early April.

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This week, South Western Ambulance Service has been urging people only to call the emergency number if someone is seriously injured or ill, and their life may be at risk.

They have also sent out numerous messages asking people not to call for estimated arrival times. 

It comes after Step 3 of the government’s lockdown roadmap kicked-in on 17 May. 

Watch: What the scientists say as England heads towards 19 July lockdown lifting

Brits have since been able to eat indoors at restaurants and meet up with friends.

Meanwhile, South Western Ambulance Service declared a “critical incident” during the second May Bank Holiday due to a staggering surge in demand. 

The service tweeted that patients may face longer ambulance times due to “extreme pressures”.

It also revealed that ambulance workers dealt with almost 3,200 incidents on Bank Holiday Saturday alone.

A spokesperson said: "Our service is currently experiencing very high demand, which means we must prioritise critically ill patients.

"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.."

The ambulance service covers the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Bristol, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

Watch: COVID-19 crisis putting 'unprecedented pressure' on ambulance crews

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