Demand for ambulances 13% higher than normal

South East Coast Ambulance Service is asking for the public’s support as demand for its service and the NHS across the region as a whole remains extremely high.

Ambulance Control CentreWith ambulance service demand approximately 13 per cent higher than expected at this time of year, the service is taking longer to reach some calls and is reminding the public that 999 should be reserved for use in an emergency only.

Over 24 hours yesterday (Saturday 2nd April), crews across Kent, Surrey and Sussex responded to more than 2,100 incidents – a similar level to the busy Easter Saturday experienced by control room and frontline crews last week.

Control room staff, ambulance crews and volunteer community first responder teams are working flat out to reach patients as quickly as possible and prioritising life-threatening emergencies.

The NHS as a whole is also very busy and the Trust is working closely with hospitals across its region to minimise delays when patients are handed over at A&E.  It is vital patients are handed over without delay so that ambulance crews are free to respond to 999 calls out in the community.

SECAmb Paramedic and Head of Resilience & Specialist Operations Andy Cashman said:

The demand the service is facing is currently very high and it is taking us longer that we would like to respond to calls. Everyone is working extremely hard to reach patients who need our help as quickly as possible.

We need the public to remember that 999 should only be used in an emergency.  Anyone faced with a medical emergency shouldn’t hesitate to call but we would urge anyone else who needs help to consider all the other options available to them.  This might be dialling NHS111 for help, where staff can provide support and advice over the phone and refer patient to out-of-hours services where appropriate.

The public are also reminded that the minor injury unit in Crowborough is open from 8am until 8pm each day.  A list of the conditions that can be treatedat Crowborough Hospital  can be found on the website.

When to call 999:

  • If you think a patient is suffering from one of the following you must dial 999 for an ambulance:
  • heart attack (e.g. chest pain for more than 15 minutes)
  • sudden unexplained shortness of breath
  • heavy bleeding
  • unconsciousness (even if the patient has regained consciousness)
  • traumatic back/spinal/neck pain

You should also call for an ambulance if:

  • you think the patient’s illness or injury is life-threatening
  • you think the illness or injury may become worse, or even life-threatening on the way to the hospital
  • moving the patient/s without skilled people could cause further injury
  • the patient needs the skills or equipment of the ambulance service and its personnel
  • traffic conditions could cause a delay in getting the person to hospital and time could be critical



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