THE ambulance service covering Somerset is warning there could be delays in attending emergency incidents if people call 999 for minor illnesses or injuries.

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) has been inundated with a huge number of emergency calls as demand for the service increases following lockdown.

The trust dealt with 14,340 incidents in the five days between between Friday and Tuesday August 7 to 11, up 13.8 per cent on the same time period last year.

SWASFT is urging people to use the ambulance service wisely and to make appropriate use of other healthcare options.

It warns that continued high call volumes could delay help to those patients most in need of emergency care.

A SWASFT spokesperson said: “Our activity levels have been higher in recent weeks, with the easing of lockdown and many visitors coming into the South West.

“In recent days we have experienced a very high level of demand – similar to what would normally be expected between Christmas and New Year.

“We would remind people always to call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.

“For less serious medical incidents, please contact NHS 111 by phone or online to make sure you get the right treatment.

“Please think carefully before calling 999 and ask yourself, ‘Is it a real emergency?’”

People should always call 999 if someone has stopped breathing, has severe chest pain, is choking, may be having a stroke, has serious blood loss, or is unconscious.