PEOPLE are being urged to only dial 999 for an ambulance in an emergency after the service covering Somerset experienced its busiest ever week.

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is warning the public it must prioritise critically ill patients as it continues to experience very high demand.

The week to Sunday (July 4) was SWASFT's busiest seven-day period on record, with 22,041 call outs - equating to more than two a minute.

The trust has experienced a significant increase in demand following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

It has dealt with more than 20,000 incidents per week since the start of May, compared to around 18,500 incidents per week in early April.

SWASFT is reminding people only to call the emergency number if someone is seriously injured or ill and their life may be at risk.

It is also asking them not to call back for an estimated arrival time to ensure others can get through to its 999 control room.

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

“We are asking the public only to call 999 in a genuine medical emergency when somebody is seriously injured or ill and their life is at risk, and for other medical concerns we encourage patients to contact NHS 111 for advice and support.

“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.”