East Midlands Ambulance Service reports it received 974 emergency calls in the first seven hours of 2019, with a new 999 call received every 20 seconds throughout the busiest hours.
By 3am, 999 control rooms had taken 515 emergency calls – a figure not normally reached until at least 9am even on busy days.
Calls were for a variety of conditions including trips and falls, breathing problems and road traffic collisions. However, naturally many calls related to illness or injury suffered as a result of too much alcohol.
On New Year’s Day (from midnight to 11.59pm), crews in Lincolnshire responded to 513 patients. This is a 23 per cent increase to the number of patients attended on December 1 (one month earlier – which was 417 patients).
Their busiest hour was 2am where ambulance crews attended 31 patients in Lincolnshire in one hour.
They had an additional 14 ambulance crew members working an overtime shift on New Year’s Day. This is in addition to the normal staffing levels.
EMAS has been running a strategic command cell, comprising key operational leaders and senior management, each day since early December to respond swiftly to incidents, fluctuations in demand and to liaise with other parts of the care system to ensure effective and safe services.
Strategic commander Ben Holdaway said: “We expect New Year’s Eve and into News Year’s Day to be our busiest time of the year and have worked tirelessly to prepare for the overall rise in demand expected during December, January and into February.
“Huge credit must go to our amazing staff who have worked hard to keep our communities safe this new year.
“Crews in our emergency ambulances and fast response vehicles, those manning the city centre triage units, volunteer responders and teams in our Emergency Operations Centres have done a fantastic job over the first few hours of the year.
“The support they have received from our mechanics, support staff and administration teams has been equally impressive.
“New Year’s Day is often our busiest day of year and we have managed activity well. I would like to send my personal thanks to all colleagues and volunteers for their hard work and wish them a Happy New Year.”
EMAS is continuing to urge people to use only use 999 for urgent and immediately life-threatening conditions, such as:
·Heavy bleeding/bleeding that won’t stop
·Loss of consciousness.
Chief Executive Richard Henderson said: “I’d like to pay tribute to everyone at EMAS and teams across the wider NHS who have worked incredibly hard to meet demand this winter.
“We continue to work with hospitals to reduce delays when handing over patients at accident and emergency departments, we are working closely with NHS partners to reduce the number of people we take to accident and emergency and we are actively promoting information for patients about the best, quickest and most appropriate places to get the help.
“All these measures will help ensure we have the resources available to treat the most serious cases as quickly as possible.”
EMAS expects activity levels to remain high through January and February and during busy periods will prioritise the most serious cases, advising other callers that they will need to wait until resources become available.
During the busiest periods this winter EMAS is forecasting it could be responding to around 4,000 calls in 24 hours – an increase of more than three per cent on last winter.
People are being asked to play their part by seeking out the most appropriate service for their conditions. Help with less serious conditions is available from GP surgeries, pharmacies, by dialling NHS111 or NHS111 online, or by visiting local walk-in centres.