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Service prepares for party night pressure

Ambulance staff in the capital are gearing up for one of their busiest evenings of the year on Friday as London’s workplaces empty for the traditional office Christmas party night.

The corresponding day last year saw demand on the 999 system rise by more than eight per cent, and it is anticipated that there could be a similar increase this time round.

Nearly 1,300 emergency calls were taken between 8pm on Friday 17 December last year and 2am on the Saturday morning, placing additional pressure on already busy control room and frontline staff.

Director of Operations Martin Flaherty said: “We have seen demand increase by more than four per cent so far this financial year, which is stretching our resources and making it increasingly difficult to maintain our usual level of service.

“Friday night will be the start of the festive season, and while we hope those out celebrating with friends and colleagues have a good time, we would urge everyone to use us wisely so that we are available for those people who really need our help.”

“As ever, our priority will be to attend patients who are in a potentially life-threatening condition, as well as the elderly and patients with chronic conditions.

“Anyone who suffers a more minor illness or injury—or who wakes up on Saturday feeling a little worse for wear—should think about using other healthcare options, such as their local pharmacist or walk-in centre, or NHS Direct. If people need to go to hospital for non-emergency treatment, they should use a taxi or get a lift with a friend or family member.”

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Notes to editors

A total of 1,284 calls were taken between 8pm on 17 December and 2am on 18 December 2004. This represented an increase of eight per cent on the average number of calls received in the same periods over the preceding three Friday nights.

The busiest hour was between 10pm and 11pm, when 224 calls were taken.

For more information, please contact the London Ambulance Service Communications
Department on 020 7921 5113.