EMERGENCY services are asking for patience as they prepare for a busy New Year’s Eve.

South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) expects to receive about three calls a minute to its 999 service in the hours after midnight.

It is urging the public to call the NHS 111 line in cases which are not emergencies, and to take extra care when drinking alcohol.

Joe Garcia, executive director of operations, said: “Our control room staff, crews and volunteers out on the road, as well as a variety of support staff will be working as hard as ever to ensure people get the help they require as we prioritise our response to our sickest patients.

“NHS 111 will also be busy but by choosing the right service people can really help us manage our demand.”

Last year, Secamb handled close to 850 calls in the seven hours after 8pm and demand was at its highest between midnight and 1am.

Mr Garcia added: “On the night itself, we want people to have fun but be sensible and look out for each other.

“If people are drinking alcohol, I’d urge them to also have soft drinks and remember to eat.

“The vast majority of calls relating to alcohol on New Year’s Eve are avoidable. If these can be cut down we are in a far better place to respond to unavoidable emergencies which are in urgent need of our attendance.”