Region’s ambulance service praised after rise in demand over Christmas

EEAST's new  Mercedes Benz 519-based ambulance ANL-161002-135146001
EEAST's new Mercedes Benz 519-based ambulance ANL-161002-135146001

Ambulance staff and volunteers have been praised after the service experienced ‘record-breaking’ demand this Christmas.

East of England Ambulance Service workers helped thousands of patients across the region, with almost 800 more calls received compared to last year.

In the region, the three control rooms handled 6,849 calls compared to 6,021 in the same period last December.

In Norfolk alone, between 7pm on Christmas Eve to 11pm on Boxing Day, there was a 7.5 per cent increase in calls from 974 last year to 1,047 this year.

Sandy Brown, director of nursing and clinical quality, thanked patient-facing members of the service “in the midst of unprecedented demand”.

He added: “I’m very thankful to our teams for the hard work they are putting into responses to patients, and with call demand up so much higher than last year, their commitment really does shine through.

“These spikes in demand are experienced nationally and are hard to explain, but as we see colder weather affect people who are vulnerable of norovirus and other transferrable illnesses, we do urge people to use their common sense – try and minimise risks so something doesn’t worsen and then need emergency treatment.”

Mr Brown urged people, going into the New Year celebrations, to be mindful that the consequences of “over-doing it” are avoidable.

He said: “Square meals, hydration, and avoiding being out in freezing temperatures will make all the difference and prevent people from starting 2017 in hospital.”