Health bosses urge 'take it easy'

AMBULANCE bosses have appealed to the public to act responsibly at tonight's New Year's Eve celebrations after a Christmas period that saw the number of emergency responses rise by 15% on last year.

AMBULANCE bosses have appealed to the public to act responsibly at tonight's New Year's Eve celebrations after a Christmas period that saw the number of emergency responses rise by 15% on last year.

Crews in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire responded to 1,369 emergency calls between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, compared with 1,188 in the same period last year.

East Anglian Ambulance Trust's assistant director of operations, Rob Mason, said: "Our staff coped pretty well with the demand and we also made use of our agreements with the voluntary agencies by deploying additional first responders to deal with some of our calls.

"In addition, we have increased our staffing levels on New Year's Eve by 25% to cover the expected increase in workload. This means that many of our staff have given up their own festivities to work over the holiday period.

"Traditionally New Year's Eve is our busiest night of the year and we would ask people to be sensible in how they use the ambulance service.

"Do not hesitate to call 999 if you or a friend or relative needs urgent medical treatment, but we would ask people to please remember that for more minor conditions they can use other NHS services, such as NHS Direct."

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A spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital said if people were ill over Christmas, they often waited until the holidays were over before visiting their GP and subsequently being referred to the hospital.

"Our busiest time has always been the first week back after the holidays, but we have very detailed plans in place. As far as we possibly can we have made sure that everything is in place to cope with more people needing our care," she added.

Meanwhile, extra police officers will be drafted into town centres across Suffolk tonight to ensure the New Year celebrations are not marred by rowdy drunks and public disorder.

n The telephone number for NHS Direct is 0845 46 47.

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