No reply to ambulance 999 calls

    Tunbridge Wells Hospital at Pembury

    Residents of Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells are increasingly at risk of having their 999 emergency call unanswered as ambulance services across the nation are overwhelmed by surging demand.

    Almost 1,000 people in the area covered by the South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) – which includes the whole of Kent and Sussex – had their calls unanswered during March, NHS figures revealed.

    The number of people abandoning their call before it is answered in order to get out of an automated queue and try again had increased by 358 per cent between April 2015 and March this year.

    A total of 984 people had their calls unanswered during March, up from 215 last April. Abandoned calls are defined by NHS England as those abandoned after ringing for at least five seconds.

    The increase in the number of abandoned calls comes as ambulance services and NHS trusts come under unprecedented pressure due to surging demand. A total of 63,546 emergency calls were made for an ambulance in March in the Secamb area, up from 48,795 in April 2015.

    The Chief Executive of Secamb resigned yesterday (May 31 2016). It comes after the service was criticised for its handling of 111 calls earlier this year.