London Ambulance Service reminds office party-goers that 999 is for emergencies only

Ambulance staff in the capital are preparing themselves for one of their busiest evenings of the year on Friday (15 December) as London’s workplaces empty for the traditional office Christmas party night.

In 2005, over 1,300 emergency calls were taken between 8pm on Friday 16 December and 2am on the Saturday morning, placing additional pressure on already-busy control room and frontline staff. It is anticipated that there could be a similar increase this time round.

Deputy Director of Operations Russell Smith said: “We received 15 per cent more 999 calls last year compared to the average number of calls received in the same periods across the three previous weeks. This stretched our resources and made it extremely difficult to maintain our usual level of service.

“Friday night will be the start of the festive season and, while we hope that those who go out celebrating with friends and colleagues have a good time, we would remind everyone that 999 is for emergencies only 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 NHS 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 1,363 emergency calls were taken between 8pm on Friday 16 December and 2am on 17 December 2005. This represented an increase of 15.3 per cent on the average number of calls received in the same periods over the preceding three Friday nights. The busiest hour was between 1am and 2am, when 234 emergency calls were taken..