South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) would like to thank its staff and volunteers for their hard work and commitment throughout the festive and New Year period and is asking the public for their continued support in 2022.

Between 8pm on New Year’s Eve and 3am on New Year’s Day, SECAmb answered 985 999 calls – a slight increase on 2019 and a more than 20% increase on the same period last year.

The last 12 months has seen SECAmb experience huge challenges including managing record 999 call demand. The service is asking the public for its continued support as it expects a challenging and busy start to the new year.

People are urged to make use of alternatives to calling 999 if they are not facing a serious or life-threatening emergency. These include calling 111 or visiting NHS 111 online at for urgent health advice or if unsure of where they should seek help.

People should also continue to take regular lateral flow device home tests, isolate immediately and arrange a PCR test if they have any COVID-19 symptoms and, if they haven’t already, arrange to have a covid booster or vaccine.

SECAmb Chief Executive Officer, Philip Astle, said: “The past 12 months have been extremely challenging for everyone at SECAmb and I would like to thank each and every member of staff for their dedication in serving the public.

“I would also like to pay tribute to our volunteers, whose support throughout the last year has been immense. My thanks also go to our colleagues across the NHS and to those in our partner organisations for their continued teamwork and assistance.

“I ask the public for their continued support and urge them to make the right choices over the winter weeks during which we expect to remain busy. I know our teams will, as ever, rise to the challenge, but people can play their part by making use of the alternatives to 999, including NHS 111 for urgent health advice or speaking to a GP or pharmacist. By making the right choices, people can reduce pressure on 999 and the wider NHS. I wish everyone a happy and safe New Year and hope for a brighter 2022.”

SECAmb has a list of winter tips to help people stay safe this winter.

SECAmb winter tips

  • Take up the opportunity for flu and COVID-19 booster vaccinations when offered to protect yourself and others.
  • Look out for any vulnerable family or friends – is there anything you can do to help them? Are there any hazards in their homes? Do their slippers need replacing? We attend falls to older and vulnerable people all year round
  • Wear appropriate shoes when outside especially during icy weather. We typically see an increase in slips and trips during colder spells
  • Heat homes to at least 18C (65F). You might prefer your main living room to be slightly warmer
  • Keep your bedroom at 18C all night if you can – and reduce drafts – if you’re under 65, healthy and active, you can safely have your home cooler than 18C, as long as you’re comfortable
  • Keep active when you’re indoors. Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so
  • Wear several layers of light clothes. They trap warm air better than one bulky layer
  • Check your home medicines cabinet – is everything in date? Restock with essentials including cold remedies, pain killers, indigestion tablets and diarrhoea and constipation remedies
  • Keep up to date with any repeat prescriptions you or your family or friends need
  • When was the last time your vehicle was serviced? If your car is safer, so are you
  • Carry some useful items in your vehicles such as a blanket and a spade for colder and possible snowy weather
  • Wear bright colours at night. Can you be clearly seen as a pedestrian or cyclist? If walking at dusk or at night use a torch
  • You should only call 999 in the event of a life-threatening or serious emergency

People who are not facing a serious emergency should make alternative arrangements such seeking advice from a GP or pharmacist so we can focus on those who need us most. If its urgent but not an emergency you can call NHS 111 or seek advice from 111 online at