South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, (SECAmb), is asking for the public’s support ahead of New Year’s Eve – always a busy time for the ambulance service.

SECAmb continues to face pressure across both it’s 999 and 111 services, following the long Christmas bank holiday weekend, and demand is expected to remain high across the New Year period.

Last year, the Trust answered close to one thousand 999 calls in the seven hours from 8pm on New Year’s Eve.

The public is asked to help SECAmb manage the additional pressure by reserving 999 for genuine emergencies (see ‘When to call 999’ below) and by making use of alternatives when it’s not serious, including visiting NHS 111 Online at for help and advice.

Anyone heading out or celebrating New Year’s Eve is urged to plan their evenings including how they are getting home, looking out for others, and, if drinking alcohol, remembering the impact drinking to excess can have on the ambulance service and wider NHS.

SECAmb Executive Director or Operations, Emma Williams, said: “We have faced significant pressure on our services for many weeks but we know that New Year’s Eve can bring additional challenges.

“Of course, we know that many people will want to celebrate the new year but we ask that they do this sensibly, understanding the impact their decisions can have on an already stretched ambulance service.

“I would like to thank all our staff and volunteers for their hard work and professionalism at this busy time and urge the public to show their support by using NHS services wisely.”

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
    • the patient needs the skills or equipment of the ambulance service and its personnel