South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb), is urging the public to use its services wisely ahead of what is expected to be a busy Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

Over the course of the weekend, SECAmb is expecting to answer in excess of 10,000 calls and is reminding people of the need to make use of alternatives to calling 999 if they are not facing an emergency. This includes seeking help and advice from NHS 111 online by visiting or by calling 111.

People should also ensure any required repeat prescriptions are ordered ahead of the weekend, that they are stocked up on useful household medicines and are aware of local pharmacy opening times.

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.

Trust staff will be working hard across the weekend to respond to everyone who needs help, while prioritising its most seriously ill and injured patients.

Recent days have seen the service handle more than 3,000 calls a day and some patients, especially those who are not in a life-threatening condition, are waiting longer than they should for a response.

SECAmb Medical Director, Dr Fionna Moore, said: “Bank Holiday weekends are always a busy time for the ambulance service and this four-day weekend comes at a time when there is already high pressure on our service.

“We know that this weekend will be challenging due to continuing high demand and pressure on our resources including covid-related staff absences.

“Our staff in our Emergency Operations Centres, crews out on the road and teams of volunteer community first responders will be working hard to get everyone who needs us the help they require. We urge anyone who is not facing a life-threatening or serious situation to make use of alternatives including visiting NHS 111 online at or by calling 111.

“We also want to remind people that while covid restrictions have lifted, there are still high numbers of people becoming infected. If people are meeting, it’s a really good idea to make use of the expected fine weather this weekend and either meet outside or let plenty of fresh air circulate inside through open windows.

“Finally, I would like wish everyone a safe and happy Easter and thank all our staff and volunteers and also our colleagues across the NHS and fellow blue light services for their hard work serving our communities 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
  • the patient needs the skills or equipment of the ambulance
    service and its personnel