AMBULANCE bosses have thanked staff and volunteers for their hard work and patients for their sensible use of the NHS during the Christmas period.

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust deal with less calls overall during the festive season compared to the record demand they faced last year.

On Christmas Eve it received 2,898 calls, 25 per cent less than last year when call handlers dealt with 3,850 calls.

This year saw 3,109 calls on Christmas Day, 19 per cent less than 2017 when it received 3,843 calls.

The control rooms then handled 3,662 calls on Boxing Day, a decrease of 14 per cent compared to last year’s 4,247.

Between December 21 and Boxing Day responses to category one life-threatening emergencies were on average seven minutes and 12 seconds, with nine out of 10 patients getting a response in 13 minutes and 21 seconds

Kevin Brown, chief operating officer for EEAST, said: “I would like to thank staff and volunteers who have worked tirelessly over the Christmas period to ensure our patients are safe and get the most appropriate response for their needs.

"The response to our sickest patients well exceeded our plans.

"This is thanks to patients who used the NHS wisely, as well as the commitment of our staff and community-based volunteer first responders.

"Our winter plan has been used effectively and helped us provide the best care for patients at a very busy time of year.”

The public are encouraged to continue to think about how they use NHS services, including the NHS website, pharmacies, NHS 111, walk-in centres and GP surgeries for medical advice.

Kevin added: “The period between now and the new year is still a busy time and I would urge people to continue using NHS services wisely. Please only call 999 in an emergency”.

“We would like to wish everyone a happy and a safe New Year.

"Remember that while you are enjoying time with family and friends, our staff are working to help people and keep them safe."