South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) is urging people use its services wisely and be aware of the demand both its 999 and NHS 111 services will face across the four-day Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

SECAmb expects to handle up to 10,000 calls to its 999 service and in excess of 20,000 calls to NHS 111, a service it provides across much of its region (Sussex, Kent and Medway).

By planning ahead, including ordering any required repeat prescriptions, checking household medicine supplies, being aware of local pharmacy opening hours, as well as only dialing 999 in the event of an emergency, people can help both SECAmb and the wider NHS manage demand.

Anyone looking to get away for the Easter break is also urged to prepare for and plan their journey, bringing supplies, including any medication they may require.

Across the 2023 Easter Bank Holiday weekend, SECAmb’s NHS 111 service handled more than 1,300 potentially avoidable calls requesting repeat prescriptions and a total of more than 21,000 calls.

People are urged to help ease the demand on the service by ordering any repeat prescriptions and collecting any medicine they may need in advance of the weekend.

SECAmb is also asking people to check on any vulnerable family or friends throughout the weekend to make sure they are safe and have everything they need.

Emergency 999 teams and their NHS 111 colleagues will be working hard across weekend to respond and provide the public with the help they require. People are asked, if not facing an emergency, to make use of NHS 111 Online for urgent help and advice by visiting

SECAmb Executive Director or Operations, Emma Williams, said: “As ever, we expect our services, both emergency 999 and our NHS 111, to face pressure across the weekend.

“Our staff and volunteers in our control rooms and out on the road will be working hard to get people the help they require but people can really help by using our services wisely and planning ahead.

“Our teams will be there for people who need us but help and advice is also available from local pharmacists, or by visiting NHS 111 online.”

“As we prioritise our ambulance responses for our most seriously ill and injured patients, we as that anyone who is not facing an emergency explores these other options available to them.

“A really key ask from us is that people remember to order and pick up any repeat prescriptions they require. Requests for repeat prescriptions via NHS 111 can often be avoided. By planning ahead and arranging these ahead of the weekend, people can help reduce pressure on our hard-working teams.”

“Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and happy Easter and thank all our staff and volunteers for their hard work in responding to patients throughout the weekend.”

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
  • traumatic back/spinal/neck pain

You should also call for an ambulance if:

  • you think the patient’s illness or injury is
  • 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