Monday, December 4, 2023

Ambulance Service: How you can avoid ringing 999 this winter

East of England Ambulance

Eight ways you can be more Winter Wise this year

THE region’s ambulance service is urging the public to take action to avoid a 999 call this winter.

Last winter, the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) received more than 370,000 emergency calls – that’s the equivalent of the populations of Cambridge, Ipswich and Harlow combined.

Demand has gone up almost 40 per cent since the winter of 2010/11 when the Trust received almost 270,000 calls from the beginning of November to the end of February.

The service is calling on people in the East to take practical steps to stay well this winter:

Get your flu vaccination. It is not too late to protect your family. Flu can be particularly serious for pregnant women, children and over 65s.

Don’t let a medical problem deteriorate – seek early advice from your GP or pharmacist.

Stock up your first aid kit and medicine cabinet with over the counter medicines ahead of winter.

Make a note of your GP and pharmacy opening hours and ensure you have enough prescription medication to last over public holidays.

Invest in a new pair of slippers and remove slip hazardous from your home to avoid a fall. One in five calls to the ambulance service relate to falls.

Make sure your car is winter ready to avoid a breakdown and store warm clothes, torch, food and drink in your car in case you get stuck in severe weather.

Keep an eye on the weather forecast and only travel if absolutely necessary during weather warnings.

If you are going out during the festive period, drink wisely and plan to get yourself and others home safely.

The most common types of call to the ambulance service in winter include patients with chest pain, abdominal pain, breathing difficulties unconsciousness, falls, and traumatic injuries. Alcohol-related injuries and illness are also a factor during the festivities.

Kevin Brown, Director of Service Delivery for EEAST, said: “Winter is a really busy time for the ambulance service and we are prepared. We will be there for patients who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses and injuries this winter. We always prioritise our response to those with the highest priority need so ask that we are only called from emergencies where other health advice and support is not appropriate.

“However, we would urge everyone to take measures to protect themselves and their family to avoid a 999 call this year. Getting vaccinated against flu and using the most appropriate service for your needs such as NHS 111, GP or pharmacist will really help the emergency ambulance service.

People can get advice about being Winter Wise by using #WinterWise and #StayWellThisWinter hashtags on social media.
You can view and share our winter animation by visiting

County breakdown of calls in winter 2016/17 (compared with 2010/11)
Bedfordshire – 37,100 (28,129)
Cambridgeshire – 50,965 (34,269)
Essex – 119,707 (89,697)
Hertfordshire – 63,216 (42,331)
Norfolk – 57,668 (42,420)
Suffolk – 45,850 (32,782)


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