The region’s ambulance service had an extremely busy Christmas and New Year, handling thousands of emergency calls.
During the last two weeks of the year, (December 15 to 31), emergency operations centre staff from South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) received more than 50,000 999 calls across Kent, Surrey and Sussex – an average of approximately 3,000 calls every day.
On New Year’s Eve between 10pm and 4am on January 1 the trust handled 1,146 999 calls – an average of more than three calls a minute.
This compares to 1,167 999 calls across the region for the same time period last year. However, calls across just New Year’s Eve alone were up on last year with the trust receiving more than 2,700 calls in the 24-hour period – an increase of about 500 on 2013.
The trust’s NHS 111 centre staff have also had an extremely busy end to the year with call volume high with Christmas Day and Boxing Day being followed by a weekend.
Ambulance crews out on the road worked flat out to reach and treat those in most need as quickly as possible, while Patient Transport Service teams have also been at full stretch to get patients to appointments and back home following discharge from hospital.
Paul Sutton, SECAmb chief executive, said: “This time of year and New Year’s Eve in particular is always incredibly busy for the ambulance service and we were expecting no difference this year. We plan ahead to best meet this demand but it is the dedication of all our staff which ensure that we respond to those in most need quickly and safely. Christmas and New Year is always going to be a challenging time but every year everyone pulls together and I’m always very proud to see this commitment. It is also a hard time of year for families of emergency workers who often get to spend very little time with anyone who works in such a profession. 2014 was a very busy year for SECAmb and I’m sure 2015 is also going to be very challenging.”