Emergency services are advising members of the public to think before calling 999 over the Easter weekend due to an expected increase in calls.

The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) said it is expecting 1,700 calls in Dorset alone between today and Bank Holiday Monday with more visitors to the region.

It is calling on residents to consider whether a medical incident warrants a 999 call, so that ambulance staff and vehicles can be more readily available for when they are genuinely needed.

Ken Wenman, Chief Executive of SWASFT, said: “As the first busy Bank Holiday weekend in the south west approaches, we are predicting increased levels of calls to the 999 emergency ambulance service.

“With extra staff on duty, round the clock, we’re ready but the truth is we have a finite number of ambulances and highly-trained staff available.

“This means we will, as always, prioritise and focus on those patients in a time-critical life-threatening condition.

“We’re committed to delivering the right care, in the right place, at the right time for the 5.5 million residents plus the 23 million visitors we serve in our region.

“But over the Easter break we’d like to ask the public to stop and think ‘is this an emergency’ before dialling 999.”

SWASFT cite choking, chest pain, stroke, serious blood loss and unconsciousness as instances to call 999.

For less severe medical conditions, members of the public are advised to either visit their local pharmacy, go to a minor injuries unit or NHS walk-in centre or call NHS 111.

Paramedics are advising people to take care when visiting the coastal regions, and to stock up on medicines and repeat prescriptions as pharmacies may reduce their opening hours over the Bank Holiday.

Mr Wenman added: “All our staff out on the road and in the clinical hubs are working extremely hard to deliver the right care to our patients.

“This Bank Holiday weekend we want to ensure that residents and tourists alike know where to access the most appropriate treatment depending on what is wrong with them.”

SWASFT are expecting more than 11,000 incidents over the whole of the south west over the Easter Bank holiday weekend.

More information and advice on medical conditions can be found at www.nhs.uk