Region’s ambulance service receives a hike in 999 calls on Christmas Day


Ambulance - Credit: Archant

It was another busy Christmas for the region’s ambulance service, with more than 2,700 emergency calls on Christmas Day.

At around 40 more calls compared to last year, the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) took 2,717 calls, which is also a hike of about 300 calls compared to an average day.

However, the public are being thanked for helping to contribute to a decrease of about 360 calls over the three days of the Christmas period compared to 2012. The service took 7,813 calls between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day and 1,241 patients were taken to hospital on Christmas Day.

Calls typically ranged from chest pains, illnesses and falls to choking, assaults and births. Only around 30 per cent were to patients with life-threatens condition, including cardiac arrest, suspected stroke, or serious wounds.

The clinical support desks in the service’s control rooms handled 875 calls for lower acuity patients which can often mean a patient can remain at home and not need ambulance attendance, and community first responders volunteers, who are dispatched to life-threatening emergencies, attended 188 patients and put in thousands of hours of their own time.

Rob Ashford, acting director of service delivery, said: “Whilst it’s encouraging we’ve seen a slight decrease in the number of calls compared to the same period last year, we’re still seeing an increase each Christmas Day.

“Our staff are working as hard as ever over the period and I’m proud of all those who have been carrying out lifesaving work for the Trust over the past few days. From our call handlers, to the crews out on the roads, and everyone else - I’d like to say a huge thank you to them all.

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“We will continue to be under pressure into next week, with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day typically being our busiest days of the year. So we’re urging members of the public to familiarise themselves with the winter health advice on our website, and to think twice before calling 999 about other options that may be available.

“111 is a very useful resource in case you’re unsure about what to do and want to know what health services are available to you over the break.”

Further advice on winter health issues are available on the EEAST website,

You should ALWAYS call 999 in the event of one of these emergencies. Don’t ever let a serious condition get worse:

- Cardiac arrest/collapse/unconsciousness

- Heart attack (pains through the left arm, shortness of breath, clammy etc.)

- Stroke

- Convulsions or fitting

- Serious injury leading to severe loss of blood, fractures etc.

- Severe burns or scalds

- Choking

- Drowning

- Severe allergic reactions


- deal with a situation as practically as possible so you can do the best thing for the patient

- quickly root out the cause of the problem– find out what might be the underlying cause, and consider whether it can be remedied by using services such as a GP, walk-in centre or pharmacist.

Christmas 2013 stats

Total 999 calls on Christmas Day – 2,717

People taken to hospital by EEAST on Christmas Day – 1,241

Total calls from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day - 7,813

Calls by county on Christmas Day – Cambs: 370 Beds: 326 Herts: 467 Suffolk: 313 Norfolk: 344 Essex: 874