New merged South West ambulance service begins today
A giant single organisation covering more than 10,000 square miles will today take over 999 ambulance services for the whole of the South West region.
More than 2,000 patients a day will be treated by crews from the enlarged South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) following its acquisition of neighbouring Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS).
In addition to Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, the area covered by SWASFT now includes Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and the former county of Avon.
Ken Wenman, chief executive of SWASFT, said one ambulance trust for the region would bring real benefits to patients.
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"The enlarged organisation has the opportunity to provide the best care available in the country to patients. With a larger workforce, we have greater resilience and flexibility to meet the challenges in healthcare in the months and years ahead.
"Also, we are better able to invest in cutting-edge treatment and research, and to continue to train our staff to better care for patients."
The trust will serve a resident population of over 5.3 million people.