South Western Ambulance Service

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

Area: South West England
Population: 5.3 million residents
Size: 51,871 km
Staff: 4,000+
Chief Executive (Chief Ambulance Officer): Ken Wenman
Stations: 96 + 6 Air Bases
HQ: Exeter

The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is the organisation responsible for providing ambulance services for the National Health Service (NHS) across South West England (the counties and unitary authorities of Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, North Somerset, the Isles of Scilly, Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire).[1] On March 1, 2011 SWASFT was the first ambulance service in the country to become a Foundation Trust. The Trust merged with neighbouring Great Western Ambulance Service on 1 February 2013.

SWASFT serves a population of more than 5.3 million, and its area is estimated to receive an influx of over 17.5 million visitors each year. The operational area is predominantly rural but also has large urban centres including Bristol, Plymouth, Exeter, Bath, Swindon, Gloucester, Bournemouth and Poole.

The Trust’s core operations include:

Scilly Isles August 2014

It is one of ten Ambulance Trusts providing England with emergency medical services and employs more than 4,000 mainly clinical and operational staff (including Paramedics, Emergency Care Practitioners, Advanced Technicians, Emergency Care Assistants, Ambulance Care Assistants and Nurse Practitioners) plus GPs and around 3,200 volunteers (including community first responders, BASICS doctors, fire co-responders and volunteer PTS drivers).

Facts and figures

The Trust is one of the largest in England. It covers an area of 51,871 km and 827 miles (1,331 km) of coastline.[2]

In 2015/16 approximately one in eight 999 calls to South Western Ambulance Service are treated over the telephone. Hear and treat is 12.7% of calls and means the patient receives clinical advice over the telephone. For 36.4% of incidents the patients experience see and treat, when the patient receives treatment or advice at the scene of the incident. In a further 7.7% of incidents, the patient is taken to a non-emergency hospital department so that might mean a community hospital or minor injuries unit. The remaining incidents result in a patient being taken to a hospital emergency department, this means the majority of incidents (56.8%) result in a patient not being conveyed. SWASFT is the best performing ambulance service in the country for non-conveyance rates. In addition approximately 62% of patients taken to hospital are admitted – this is again the highest (best) performance for an ambulance trust in the country. This means that when SWASFT takes a patient to an emergency department they are likely to be admitted, not simply treated and discharged, therefore confirming that is the right place for them to receive the care they need.

There are 96 ambulance stations, six air ambulance bases, three clinical control rooms (999 control rooms), two Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) bases and one boat across the South Western Ambulance Service operational area.

Patient feedback

SWASFT place a lot of emphasis on patient experience and actively encourage feedback about its services - whether positive or negative. Lessons learned from the feedback, and all improvements and changes, are reported to its Board of Directors. The Trust also engages with patients and the public at events and shows, as well as online. The number of compliments received by the Trust in 2014/15 increased by 41% to 2,055. Complaints also rose by 20% to 1,268.[3] The easiest way to contact the Trust is online at their website.

Divisions and stations

The Trust is split into three divisions:

The Trust has 96 ambulance stations among the counties that it serves:


Vehicle fleet

SWAST ambulance on an emergency call

111 service

SWASFT provides the non-emergency 111 helpline and triage service for Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and Dorset. The service in Devon was also provided by the Trust until October 2016, when it was combined with the out-of-hours GP service.[4][5]

Tiverton Minor Injuries Unit

In May 2014 the Trust won a contract to run a doctor-led minor injuries unit at Tiverton and District Hospital, open seven days a week. Patients do not need an appointment to visit the centre, which provides treatment for minor injuries and ailments including:[6]

See also


  1. "What we do". South Western Ambulance Service. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  2. "Inspection Report" (PDF). Care Quality Commission. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
  3. "SWASFT Annual Report" (PDF).
  4. "CQC warns South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust about safety of NHS 111 service". Care Quality Commission. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  5. "NHS 111 and out-of-hours GP service". Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  6. "Tiverton Urgent Care Centre". Retrieved 11 October 2016.

External links

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