'Think before you call 999'

More than half of all 999 ambulance calls made in Norfolk and Suffolk during the hottest weekend of the year were non emergencies - with the majority alcohol related.

More than half of all 999 ambulance calls made in Norfolk and Suffolk during the hottest weekend of the year were non emergencies - with the majority alcohol related.

Health bosses said crews and emergency dispatchers were left exhausted - after answering calls which equate to one emergency every 90 seconds on Saturday and Sunday- and are pleading with the public to think before they dial 999.

Demand for an emergency response was more than 20pc higher than previous weekends and activity levels which mirror a typical New Year's Eve.

Lyn Reynolds, chief operating officer for Norfolk, said: “Over the weekend Norfolk and Suffolk conducted 951 emergency responses, which equates to one every 90 seconds.

“Only 309 of those were deemed to be life-threatening and our crews were able to leave 50pc of their patients attended at home or in a place, which really questions the level of emergency need in the first place.

“The largest proportion of calls were in the unknown category and can often be alcohol-related, the second highest was falls and some of them can also be caused by alcohol.

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“We are making a plea that if people feel unwell this weekend they think about whether they can wait to see their GP on Monday or if is a problem that can be dealt with by a pharmacist or by calling NHS Direct. Of course, if they do us we will do our best to help.”

As temperatures soared into the 80s, crews barely had a moment to recover from one call to the next.

Rob Lawrence, chief operating officer for Suffolk, said: “The excessive demand placed us under extreme pressure and not all the calls were what we would describe as emergency, our crews and control staff performed well but were left exhausted at the end of their shifts.

“It really is a case of 'looking after us so we can look after you', and the public are asked to consider if their condition is really an emergency or could it be directed either to out of hours GP services, a local pharmacist for advice on self treatment, or to NHS Direct which is available for advice and information 24/7 on 0845 4647.”

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