A new multi-purpose ambulance and contact centre in Gillingham will become fully operational this week when 999 Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) teams move in, joining their frontline road and NHS 111 colleagues.

The EOC teams are expected to move into the South East Coast Ambulance Services (SECAmb’s) new centre in Bredgar Road on Thursday, (14 September). The teams were previously based at Coxheath, Kent, where 999 calls were handled for 36 years.

The centre consists of a Make Ready Centre, the Trust’s East EOC and NHS 111 contact centre and is the first ambulance centre in the country to bring all three functions together under one roof.

Ambulance crews, previously based in Chatham, moved into the centre at the start of June with 111 colleagues moving from their premises in Ashford, Kent, on 28 June.

Integrating both 999 and 111 services is a key part of SECAmb’s aim to deliver more joined up integrated care and to increase efficiency. The development will also bring the east of SECAmb’s region in line with its West Emergency Operations Centre (including NHS 111), based in Crawley, which opened in 2017.

The new centre will provide the Trust with greater contact centre capacity and provide greater resilience and operational flexibility. It will also bring local recruitment opportunities for people across both 999 and 111 services.

John J O'Sullivan, Associate Director for Integrated Care (999 & 111) at SECAmb said: “I’m delighted we are at the point where all three aspects of the centre will be fully functioning under the one roof. It is an important development for us to complete as we continue to share best practice across both our 999 and 111 functions.

“A huge number of people have been involved in making the plans a reality and I would like to than all those who have worked on such a major project. Our staff and, in turn, our patients, will benefit from the development and I wish my colleagues well in their new home.”