Covid: East of England ambulance staff plead for New Year's Eve partygoers to 'be responsible'

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Ambulances bosses in the East of England are warning that they are under extra pressure because of staff being off sick or isolating.

They say it means that they will have to prioritise those in greatest need and are appealing for people to act responsibly if they are out celebrating New Year's Eve.

Marcus Bailey, Chief Operating Officer of the East of England Ambulance Service, said: "Emergency services, social care staff, hospital staff - we will be working to look after you, we'll be here to respond to those who need it - the sickest patients.

"But it's important to know that we're under pressure, the systems are under pressure and for patients you may well have to wait longer while we prioritise those in the greatest need."

The NHS across the region is continuing to promote booster jabs and says it's not too late, even in the New Year.

Dozens of people were at the Cambridge vaccine centre today, and uptake rates in the city are broadly in line with the national average.

Matthew Winn, from the Cambs Community Services NHS Trust, said: "Just over seven in ten people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough who are eligible have had their booster jabs.

Another booster jab is administered at the Cambridge vaccination centre Credit: ITV Anglia

"So a few thousand to go yet, and we're ready and waiting for those people to come in."

Hospitality bosses are hoping New Year's Eve revellers will help give their businesses a boost after a disappointing festive period.

Bookings in the two weeks before Christmas were down almost 50% on expected levels- costing the UK economy an estimated £60m, but there are signs that people will be venturing out for tonight's celebrations.

Adnams Brewery in Southwold. Credit: ITV Anglia.

Andy Wood, chief executive of Southwold-based Adnams PLC, said: "I was in a couple of our outlets our pubs yesterday and it seems that the New Year bookings are better than before Christmas.

"I don't know what's driving that, and it's quite right that people are cautious but people seem to be thinking that they are going to come out for New Year.

"That will throw something of a lifeline to the industry but will only go someway to creating the income that they would normally have expected over the Christmas period."

Final preparations at MASH in Cambridge Credit: ITV Anglia

While venues are open health bosses are continuing to urge everyone to be cautious. However business owners say they are struggling to recover from the pandemic and are expecting a busy night tonight.

Louise Holly runs MASH in cambridge and said that they have sold out for tonight: "We've got 500 people coming and we've got a waiting list for tickets so I think demand is there.

"People know they have to have their covid passports or their lateral flow tests. And I think people are proceeding with caution but they're doing it eagerly now."