Ambulance patients facing 'considerable waits'
Patients could face "considerable waits" for ambulances due to "extremely high demand" over the festive period.
South Western Ambulance Service said it was "incredibly busy" on Christmas Eve, with calls "up almost 15% on last year".
A spokesman said critically ill patients had to take priority.
He said demand was expected to rise on New Year's Eve and "as many extra staff as possible" were on duty, with "every available vehicle" being used.
The service covers Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Bristol, Somerset, South Gloucestershire and the Isles of Scilly.
Residents are urged to call 999 only for medical emergencies, such as cardiac arrest, choking, severe chest pain, suspected stroke, serious blood loss and unconsciousness.
"Since we must prioritise our available resources to respond to the most critically ill patients, this means that some less poorly patients may experience considerable waits for a response during this very busy period," the spokesman said.
"The whole NHS system is under extreme pressure, so please call the correct service for your needs and please only call if you really need to."
Non-emergency medical care can be sought by calling the NHS 111 helpline or by visiting a pharmacy or out-of-hours GP.