South Western Ambulance Service
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South Western Ambulance Service
South Western Ambulance Service
NHS Foundation Trust
TypeNHS foundation trust
Established1 July 2006 (Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset)
1 February 2013 (merged with Great Western Ambulance Service)
HeadquartersAbbey Court, Eagle Way, Exeter, Devon, EX2 7HY
Region servedCounties 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
NHS regionNHS England
Area size51,871 km2 (20,028 mi2)
Population5.47 million+
Establishments96 Ambulance Stations
Budget£227.6 million (planned, 2018-19)[1]
ChairTony Fox
Chief executiveKen Wenman Edit this at Wikidata

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).[2] On 1 March 2011, SWASFT was the first ambulance service in the country to become a NHS foundation trust. On 1 February 2013, neighbouring Great Western Ambulance Service merged with the trust.[3]

SWASFT serves a population of more than 5.47 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, Truro, Bath, Swindon, Gloucester, Bournemouth and Poole.[4]

The service is headquartered in Exeter, Devon. It has 96 ambulance stations and six charity-operated air ambulance bases within its area. The Chief Executive is Ken Wenman, who was appointed when the trust was created on 1 July 2006, having previously served as the Chief Executive of the former Dorset Ambulance Service.[5]

The trust's core operations include:[6][4]

  • Emergency ambulance 999 services
  • Urgent Care Services (UCS) - GP out-of-hours medical care (Dorset)
  • NHS 111 call-handling and triage services (Dorset)
  • Tiverton Urgent Care Centre.
The Star of Life ambulance boat serves the Scilly Isles

It is one of the ambulance trusts providing England with emergency medical services, and employs around 4,500[1] mainly clinical and operational staff (including Paramedics, Emergency Care Practitioners, Advanced Technicians, Emergency Care Assistants, Ambulance Care Assistants and Nurse Practitioners). In addition there are around 3,200 volunteers including community first responders, BASICS doctors, fire co-responders and patient transport drivers.

Facts and figures

The trust covers an area of 10,000 square miles (26,000 km2).[1]

In 2017/2018, approximately one in nine 999 calls to SWASFT were treated over the telephone. "Hear and treat", where the patient receives clinical advice over the telephone, accounted for 11.6% of calls. For 35.8% of incidents the patients experienced "see and treat", when the patient receives treatment or advice at the scene of the incident. In a further 5.9% of incidents, the patient was taken to a non-emergency hospital department such as a community hospital or minor injuries unit. The remaining incidents resulted in a patient being taken to a hospital emergency department, thus around half of the incidents (53%) resulted in a patient not being conveyed.[1]

In 2017, SWASFT was the best performing ambulance service in the country for non-conveyance rates. In addition approximately 62% of patients taken to hospital were 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, confirming that this is the right place for them to receive the care they need.[7]

There are 95 ambulance stations,[8] six air ambulance bases delivered by five charities,[9] two control rooms, two Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) bases and one boat across the SWASFT operational area.[10]

In 2016, the Care Quality Commission told SWASFT to make significant improvements in the NHS 111 service.[11] The inspection of the trust in 2016 identified several areas which required improvement.[12]

The trust's income for 2017/18 was £240million.[1] In 2018, the trust said it would need an extra £12M a year to meet the new ambulance performance standards.[13]

The number of compliments received by the trust in 2014/2015 increased by 41% to 2,055 while complaints also rose by 20% to 1,268.[14]


SWASFT has two clinical hubs which take emergency calls and dispatch resources: one within the Exeter headquarters and the other at Filton, north of Bristol.[15] As of 2018, the centres had a combined staff of around 450.[1]

After a reorganisation in 2018, the trust's operations and ambulance stations are divided into eight areas.[8]

Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire

Cornwall & Isles of Scilly

North & East Devon

South & West Devon





Vehicle fleet

SWAST ambulance on an emergency call

The SWAST vehicle fleet includes

  • emergency ambulances
  • patient transport ambulances
  • rapid response vehicles
  • rapid response motorcycles
  • bicycles
  • hazardous area response teams (based in Exeter and Bristol)
  • ALN 043 Star of Life Wave Saver 1000 Class ambulance boat

NHS 111 service

SWASFT provides the non-emergency 111 helpline and triage service for Dorset, from a call centre at St Leonards. In July 2019, it announced that it was handing back the contract for these services, owing to staff shortages; the replacement provider is yet to be decided.[16]

Tiverton Urgent Care Centre

In May 2014, the trust won a contract to run a doctor-led minor injuries unit at Tiverton and District Hospital, Devon. Patients do not need an appointment to visit the centre, which is open seven days a week and provides treatment for minor injuries and ailments.[17]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Inspection report" (PDF). Care Quality Commission. September 2018. Retrieved 2019.
  2. ^ "What we do". South Western Ambulance Service. Retrieved 2014.
  3. ^ "Single trust formed after South West ambulance merger". BBC. Retrieved 2017.
  4. ^ a b "About Us". South Western Ambulance Trust. Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ "Chief Executive - Ken Wenman". South Western Ambulance Service. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ "South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust". NHS Choices. Retrieved 2017.
  7. ^ "South Western Ambulance Service" (PDF). South Western Ambulance Service. Retrieved 2017.
  8. ^ a b "County Map" (PDF). Information Governance, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. 16 April 2019.
  9. ^ "Welcome to SWASFT - Accident and Emergency". Retrieved 2019.
  10. ^ "South Western Ambulance Service". Ambulance Research. Retrieved 2017.
  11. ^ "CQC warns South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust about safety of NHS 111 service". Care Quality Commission. Retrieved 2017.
  12. ^ "South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust Quality Report 2016" (PDF). Care Quality Commission. Retrieved 2017.
  13. ^ "Ambulance trusts demand millions to meet new targets". Health Service Journal. 4 May 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  14. ^ "SWASFT Annual Report" (PDF).
  15. ^ "Clinical Hubs". SWASFT. Retrieved 2019.
  16. ^ "Ambulance service gives up 111 contract". BBC News: England. 11 July 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  17. ^ "Tiverton Urgent Care Centre". SWAST. Retrieved 2019.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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