Extra South East ambulance staff for New Year's Eve

Extra ambulance staff are on standby this New Year's Eve after paramedics saw numbers of callouts increase during this Christmas compared with last year.

South East Coast Ambulance Service saw calls rise by 8% during the festive period, compared with 2011.

And on 21 and 22 December, the trust saw emergency calls increase by more than 20% compared with last year.

Spokesman James Pavey said additional resources would be available but demand would still almost outstrip supply.

He said: "We plan to have additional resources in place. However, we are still going to be very busy however many we put on.

"The demand almost outstrips the supply, so what we actually do is filter some of the calls away.

'Look after friends'

"Not everybody that calls actually really needs an ambulance. They sometimes need advice and guidance and pointing to somewhere else."

Dan Garrett, operations manager at the trust's Coxheath base near Maidstone, Kent, said staff used specialist software to predict where many emergency calls would come from, and vehicles would be on standby in those areas so crews could be in the right place at the right time.

But he urged people to look after their friends and try to stop people from drinking if they seemed to have had "a little bit too much".

People who need help with minor ailments or injuries have been advised to contact NHS Direct, see their local pharmacist, or contact their GP during surgery hours, or their out-of-hours GP at other times.

The ambulance service said serious and life-threatening calls were its priority.

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