Press release: Use 999 wisely - plea after surge in demand

Blurred ambulance

Issued to media and the public on 8th March:

The region’s ambulance service is urging people to use 999 wisely following another spike in demand.

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) received more than 85,000 calls last month, compared with just over 72,000 in February 2015.

The increase in calls resulted in the Trust sending a response to more than 66,000 incidents in February – an almost 10% increase in actual responses compared with the same month last year. The surge in demand has continued into March with the service taking more 999 calls on Sunday (6th March) than New Year’s Eve/Day, which is traditionally the busiest day of the year.

Rob Ashford, Acting Director of Service Delivery for EEAST, said: “We have experienced an unprecedented increase in demand in the last few weeks, which has placed huge pressure on all of our patient facing and support services staff and management teams. We are all working incredibly hard to meet demand and help patients as quickly as possible. However, we would urge people to think about the alternatives if their condition doesn’t actually need an emergency ambulance.”

He continued, “Of course the NHS is here for those people who have an urgent need, and we are called to help the really ill and most injured. Help us by looking after yourself as much as you possibly can. If you are not sure, call 111 for advice or visit your pharmacy.”

The Trust launched It’s your call earlier this year. The campaign provides information about which NHS service to call for their needs, what happens when they call 999, and what to expect. The material includes two posters, a business card-sized reminder, and a video at one of the region’s control rooms.

For more information about It’s your call, visit our website. 

Total number of 999 calls the Trust sent a response to in February 2016 and percentage increase (compared with February 2015 )

  • Bedfordshire: 6,661 (6,038) – 10.3%
  • Cambridgeshire: 9,123 (8,022) – 13.7%
  • Essex: 20,141 (18,521) – 8.7%
  • Hertfordshire: 10,870 (9,864) – 10.1%
  • Norfolk: 10,816 (9,839) – 9.9%
  • Suffolk: 8,551 (7,967) – 7.3%
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