HEAVY demand on New Year’s Eve saw South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) handle around 1,000 999 calls and carry out 651 responses.

The volume of calls over the six hours from 10pm December 31 until 4am on January 1, which averaged three a minute, was slightly down on 2016/17, as were the ambulance responses.

The night’s activity followed a number of days of heavy demand during which all the trust’s staff worked hard to respond to patients as quickly as possible.

Staff in the trust’s NHS 111 centres, which it operates across the region in partnership with Care UK, were also extremely busy answering more than 5,300 calls throughout the whole of December 31.

SECAmb chief executive Daren Mochrie said: “Our staff and volunteers work extremely hard and provide excellent care to patients all year round but I would like to thank them for their commitment and professionalism throughout the Christmas and new year period which is always very busy.”

SECAmb continues to be extremely busy and expects pressure on the service to continue in the coming weeks.

It urged people to remember 999 should only be dialled in the event of a life-threatening or serious emergency.