Ambulance service staff have one of busiest nights of year

Ambulances. Picture: James Bass

Ambulances. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2008

It was billed as Black Friday and it certainly proved to be a bumper night for ambulance service and hospital staff in the region.

The last Friday before Christmas, with people out partying, is always one of the busiest of the year for the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) and yesterday was no exception. The trust, which had warned that lower priority calls might have to wait longer to receive assistance, had received more than 2,800 calls by 9pm last night compared to 3,200 on Black Friday last year.

An EEAST spokesman said: 'The day is traditionally known to emergency services in the UK as Black Friday because of its connection with Christmas parties and nights out. Last year, the service took 3,186 calls during Black Friday, making it one of the 30 busiest days between November and February.'

The volume of calls last year equated to one call every 30 seconds.

This year, the service ran a Twitterthon to highlight the issues it faces.

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Gary Morgan, of EEAST, said: 'In an ideal world, we'd invite every single person to ride out on an ambulance and see a control room, but in reality bringing it to life for people who use Twitter is one of the next best things we do to give people an appreciation of our work and the activity we face on such a busy day.

'Obviously we hope it makes people think twice about how they may use NHS services and 999 in particular during the festive period – December 23 is also predicted to be a busy Friday as it's the last before Christmas, so if people can take on board just what it is we face and use services differently, it can have real benefits to everyone including other patients in their emergency hour of need.'

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It was also a busy night for hospital staff. A spokesman for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: 'Last night was a busy night in A&E and demand was managed well in partnership with the ambulance trust.

'We see up to 170 ambulances arriving at the A&E department in any one day, making the Emergency Department at NNUH by far the busiest in the East of England, accepting almost double the number of arrivals to the next busiest on a daily basis. The Emergency Department always treats patients in order of clinical priority which includes those in ambulances as well as self-presenting at the department.'

An EEAST spokesman added when ambulances arrive at hospital, crews work with hospital staff to ensure patients can be handed over as quickly as possible to get the treatments and assessments they need.

• To catch up with the twitterthon, visit the EEAST Twitter feed.

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