The East of England Ambulance Service has declared a critical incident status for the second time this month amid a high volume of 999 calls and hospital handover delays.

By declaring a critical incident, NHS services in the region are focused on patients with the greatest need and can access wider support from health and care partners.

On December 20, the public were warned that the health service remains under extreme pressure in the run-up to Christmas.

The service stood down its incident status two days later but has since increased it again as staff battle to respond to extreme demand.

A spokesman for the ambulance service said: "Staff continue to work incredibly hard in challenging circumstances, to respond to calls and incidents as quickly as possible.

"If you need to contact us because of a life-threatening condition or serious injury, then call 999.

"For everything else, we would urge you to please use 111 online, speak to your GP or use a minor injuries centre."

It comes after it was announced that nurses from Norfolk's health trust - including the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital - are set to take part in strike action on January 18 and 19.

As well as the N&N, other health trusts in the county which are participating in the action include Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Norfolk and Waveney ICB.

Elsewhere in the region, East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Mid and South Essex ICB and NHS Suffolk and North East Essex ICB.

Two days of nurses strikes were held in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on December 15 and 20, which resulted in more than 40,000 patient appointments and procedures being rescheduled.

But nurses in Norfolk did not participate during the walkout earlier this month.