The South West Ambulance Service has urged revellers to only call 999 in an emergency after struggling to cope with increasingly high demand over the festive period.

They received around 3,000 calls per day since Boxing Day and yesterday calls were up 15 per cent on last year.

This demand is expected to rise even further during the New Year's celebrations.

A spokesperson for the service said: "Despite having as many extra staff on duty as possible and every available vehicle on the road, meeting this severe level of demand remains a significant challenge.

“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.

"We would like to apologise for this – please be assured that we are doing our best to reach everyone as soon as we can.

“999 should only be called for conditions including cardiac arrest, choking, severe chest pain, suspected stroke, serious blood loss and unconsciousness.

"This will help us reach those in serious need as soon as possible.

“This New Year we are urging people to think before they dial 999. Please only call if there is a medical emergency.

"Please look after yourselves and others to avoid conditions escalating to an emergency.

"Please help us to help you.

"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. 

“Thank you.”