999 advice issued as NHS walkouts continue

PEOPLE should only call 999 in ‘life-threatening’ or ‘life-altering’ emergencies during NHS walkouts this week.

The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) has urged the public to use 999 appropriately during the industrial action, as a dispute over pay and conditions continues.

Services will be affected on Monday, February 6 and 10.

“On days where there is strike action, people should continue to call 999 if there is a medical or mental health emergency – when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk,” a spokesperson said.

“Ambulances will be able to respond in these situations, but this may only be where there is the most immediate risk to life.”

They said where the situation is not life-threatening, people should seek support through NHS 111 online or through NHS 111.

Will Warrender, chief executive of SWASFT, said: “I want to take this opportunity to repeat my thanks to the communities that we serve.

“We have been asking you to support us by only calling 999 for life-threatening emergencies, and so far your continued support has meant we have been able to prioritise those patients most in need of our help.

“As we look ahead to … industrial action, we are again asking for your support, because we absolutely must have crews available for the most life-threatening conditions, and we will be prioritising these patients first.

“This means there will be other patients waiting for an ambulance, and we will get to them as soon as we can. We are sorry that we may be unable to respond to them as quickly as we would like.

“If you are waiting for an ambulance, please do not call back asking for an estimated time of arrival. We cannot provide this information and it blocks our lines for other callers.

“You should also be aware that less serious, non-life-threatening incidents may not receive a response for the duration of any strike.

“Please be reassured that we are doing all we can to manage winter pressures and the upcoming industrial action, including receiving military support during industrial action days, which will allow our ambulance clinicians to crew more ambulances and reach patients more quickly.”

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