Big increase in emergency care demand starts the new year

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NHS emergency and urgent care services in Sussex experienced a significant increase in demand at the start of 2015, with the number of people calling 999 during January 3 to 4 up by close to 30 per cent on the equivalent weekend in 2014.

South East Coast Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) received more than 6,000 calls (6,258) at the weekend across its region – close to 1,400 more than the number received across the weekend of January 4 to 5 last year (4,861) – an increase of about 28 per cent.

Within this increase, calls categorised as being the most serious and life-threatening only increased by just under 100.

During New Year’s Eve, the Trust handled more than 1,100 calls between 10pm and 4am – an average of more than three calls a minute.

A joint press release issued by health organisations including Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, South East Coast Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust, Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford CCG and High Weald Lewes Havens CCG said A&E and out-of-hours GP services across Sussex have also been extremely busy.

More than 7,000 people (7,322) visited emergency departments in Sussex and east Surrey during January 2 to 4 and out-of-hours services recorded a 30 per cent surge in activity.

NHS services across the region are working together to provide the best care possible for all patients that need help during this time of unprecedented demand, while stressing the importance of the public using the NHS 111 helpline, walk-in clinics, local GPs and pharmacists as a first point of call for non-emergency conditions.

Dr Jane Pateman, Medical Director of South East Coast Ambulance Service, said: “Knowing where to go and who to call is key.

“Please remember that 999 should be used for seriously-ill or injured patients only, and NHS 111 can put you in touch with the out-of-hours service when you need it and your local GP surgery is closed, or when you cannot contact your GP surgery.

“NHS 111 in Sussex is run by the ambulance service. The helpline can also tell you where your nearest walk-in clinic is and late-night pharmacies. They can even call an ambulance for you if you do need to go to A&E.”