LOCAL NEWS: Emergency call centres under pressure


Emergency services are under increasing pressure as their staffing levels drop due to COVID symptoms or pings from the NHS app, causing longer call waiting times.

The emergency services have been on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic since the beginning and faced continuous challenges, but with the release of the vaccine program it was believed to be the end of such overwhelming hurdles. However, as summer arrives and the public leave their homes with the lockdown lifted, the emergency services have found themselves in dire straits once more. 

Dorset Police have shared concerns regarding the potential increase of incoming calls over the summer season as many people will be out enjoying the sun and warm weather, especially with the start of the school holidays. They reported a rise in demand over the past week of an 11%  in 101 calls and a 21% increase in 999 calls. This surge in demand alone has put pressure on the call centres. 

But today BH Living can reveal that those same call centres have also been hit by a huge reduction in staff levels by as much as 35% due to staff being off with COVID symptoms or being told to self isolate by the NHS COVID-19 app or Test and Trace call. These changes are likely to result in increased waiting times for those calling the 101 non-emergency number.

This information echoes a news release last week on the 16th of July, claiming that the emergency services were receiving a high number of emergency callouts despite suffering staff shortages. Reports stated that the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) have been responding to around 125 new incidents every hour and about 2 new incidents every minute. This extra pressure coupled with staff shortages has undoubtedly put a strain on the service and their response times.

In order to counter these issues the police are asking the public to use their online services to contact them and reduce the amount of pressure on the phone lines. The online system is a simple alternative to phone calls and is managed by members of the Force Command Centre, this ensures that someone will be available to handle an issue and get back to those making reports. 

To report a non-emergency issue click here or visit their site at https://www.dorset.police.uk/do-it-online/


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