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7 June 2012, 08:16 | Updated: 7 June 2012, 08:21
Ambulance staff and volunteers have been praised for the 'exceptionally hard work' that ensured patients continued to receive an excellent service over the long weekend break as 999 calls soared by more than 17% in some areas.
From Saturday June 2 to Tuesday June 5 inclusive the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) saw calls rise overall by 6.61% compared to the equivalent period last year.
A county breakdown showed the demand rise vary from 2.17% in Essex to 17.38% in Cambridgeshire.
In total the Trust took nearly 9,000 calls during the four days from Saturday June 2 to Tuesday June 5. During the first weekend of June and the following Monday and Tuesday last year the total number of calls was 8,347.
Neil Storey, Director of Emergency Operations (Interim), praised staff and volunteers for all their efforts in ensuring patients continued to receive a first class service.
He said: "The executive team and I would like to extend our sincere thanks to the exceptionally hard work of staff and volunteers over the four days. Public holidays and national celebrations will of course always be a challenge, and this was an incredibly busy weekend with 999 calls in some areas up by more than 17% on the same period last year.
But the service managed extremely well. Performance was excellent over the entire holiday and this simply would not have been achievable without crews, managers, control room and support staff and volunteers giving up a long weekend to ensure patients continued to receive a first rate service from us."
Mr Storey also took the opportunity to remind members of the public to choose their health service wisely, only calling 999 in an emergency such as suspected stroke or cardiac arrest.
Non-life threatening emergencies can be referred to more appropriate services such as directly to A&E, walk in centre, minor injuries unit, out of hours doctor, GP surgery, pharmacy or NHS Direct.
If patients do call 999 in a non emergency they will be clinically assessed and prioritised in a similar way to A&E and may have to wait for a response or be advised over the phone.
Call breakdown by county: