Ambulance bosses are urging people to stay fit and healthy throughout Christmas and new year as they get more 999 calls than ever before.

Crews dealt with 20% more calls on Friday night (December 21) and Saturday morning (December 22) – and are not expecting any let-up over the festive season.

South East Coast Ambulance Service went online on Friday for a Tweetfest to highlight its work.

It included live tweets from the control room at Lewes on what bosses were expecting to be the busiest day of the year.

Head of contingency planning and resilience Andy Cashman said: “We obviously want everyone to enjoy themselves over the festive season but if people are drinking alcohol we urge them to drink sensibly and responsibly.

“In addition, following a few simple measures such as wearing layers of clothing to keep warm which can then be easily removed when entering warm shops, or keeping details of out-of-hours GP services and dentists close to hand can all help to keep you safe and well this winter.”

'Take care'

The senior operations manager for Brighton and Rother, James Pavey, said the number of calls being received so far in December was 8% higher than the same period last year.

He said: “The volume of 999 calls we are currently experiencing is far greater than we have ever seen before.

“When it comes to Christmas Day and Boxing Day, we tend to get busier in the afternoons than in the mornings but obviously the big one will be New Year’s Eve.

“We are just asking people to take care when out and about and to help us by considering approaching alternative services for advice and information if it is not an emergency.”

People are also being asked to help ease pressure on accident and emergency departments by visiting only in genuine emergencies.

Emergencies only

NHS Sussex medical director Andrew Foulkes said: “We need to make sure that emergency services are available for those who really need them.

“People need to remember that A&E is an emergency department and should be used for very serious and life threatening illnesses and injuries.”

People can call their GP out-of-hours service, try walk in centres like the one at Brighton Station or phone NHS Direct on 0845 4647.

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