It comes as 999, 111 and patient transport services across the south continue to see significant demand – much higher than expected for this time of year.
People are being urged to utilise 111 online wherever possible as it can provide quick advice on the best healthcare option, including a call back from a trained clinician or nurse, a booked appointment in A&E or advice on self-care.
Mark Ainsworth, director of operations at the South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS), said: ‘The demand on us remains high, in particular on our 111 phone line, so we are again appealing for help from people to alleviate this by utilising 111 online which is a great tool, quick to access and provides instant information and advice.
‘However, we know requesting help from the public by urging them to use 111 online isn't feasible for everyone, particularly those who find it complicated or don't have the levels of access to technology that others may have.
‘Therefore, we are calling on the more tech-savvy members of the public to lend a helping hand their family, friends or neighbours – particularly people who you know live alone – who may find it difficult as, in turn, this will further alleviate the pressure on our 111 call handlers.’
People are also being asked to support the patient transport service while it focuses on the discharge of patients from hospitals across the region to free up space for new admissions.
Director of commercial services at SCAS, Paul Stevens, added: ‘People can support us through this challenging period by, wherever possible, finding alternative ways to get to hospital appointments – maybe via family, friends or neighbours, volunteers and community transport or taxis.
‘It is also really important that people let us know via the cancellation line 0300 790 0143 if they or a family member has patient transport booked they no longer need so we can use it for another patient.’
Anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer car driver for SCAS can find out more via scas.nhs.uk or email [email protected]