Incident

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We are very busy

Date: 10 November 2021

EEAST Ambulance driving down the street with blue lights flashing

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust is extremely busy and we are asking for your help with the current high levels of demand for our services.

You can help us by choosing the right service.

If it is not a life-threatening emergency, please use NHS 111 online which will help direct you to the most appropriate service.

If it is a life-threatening emergency, please call 999 immediately. Each call we receive is prioritised by clinical need – from a category 1 (life-threatening injuries and illnesses) to a category 4 which are less urgent calls.

For our most serious patients, our average response time should be within seven minutes and 9 out of 10 ambulances should arrive in 15 minutes.

However, current pressures on the healthcare system are extreme and mean it is very difficult to provide as timely a response to our patients as we would like.  If your healthcare need is urgent, however, you will be prioritised and we will be with you as soon as possible.

Calling 111 can help you get care more quickly for non-urgent problems. If you call 999 and it’s not a life-threatening emergency, you will be waiting longer for an ambulance crew as our control room and ambulance crews deal with the most seriously ill or injured patients first.

Calling 999 does not guarantee that you will be sent an ambulance.  Our call handlers will ask you a series of questions to assess your clinical needs and our Emergency Clinical Advice and Triage (ECAT) teams can also offer advice and direct patients to other services. This helps reduce the pressure on EEAST and also on A&E departments in hospitals across the region, which are all experiencing high demand.

Arriving at an A&E department in an ambulance does not mean you will be seen more quickly on arrival.  If you can safely make your own way to hospital, please do so, patient arriving at hospital are triaged into clinical priority regardless of how they arrived.  

What else you can do to help?

  • Avoid having multiple people calling about the same incident or patient.
    One call will provide us with the information we need to send help. Multiple callers for the same incident tie up our lines and prevent us from helping others also in need at that time.

  • Our call handlers cannot provide you with an estimated time of arrival for an ambulance.  If you are calling back and the patient’s condition has not changed, please tell us at the start of the call. We are very busy and trying to get to our sickest patients as quickly as possible.
  • Always let us know if you no longer need an ambulance.
    If you no longer need an ambulance or are making your own way to hospital, please let us know so our crews can help someone else.

  • Do not use aggressive or threatening behaviour with our staff.  We appreciate that all 999 calls are important and people can be scared or upset when they call. However, this will not help get care to you quicker and can lengthen the call, further delaying help to you or others.


We are here to help and we are doing our best to help everyone.

  • Summary:

    We are extremely busy and we are asking for your help with the current high levels of demand for our services.