Ambulance service moves to highest alert level as ‘seriously ill patients’ prioritised

Public are being urged to only call 999 for an ambulance if they are facing a serious emergency.

The NHS ambulance service covering Kent, Surrey and Sussex has moved to its highest level of alert.

It means that some patients are ‘waiting longer’ for an emergency ambulance while the ‘most seriously ill and injured patients’ are prioritised.

South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) confirmed to ITV News Meridian that it had moved to REAP level 4 this morning. (Thursday, 10 March)

The trust had previously been at the level – meaning there is extreme pressure on its services – for several months until the end of January. 

SECAmb says some patients are waiting longer than usual while they prioritise the most seriously ill.

A spokesperson added that the public can help by “making use of alternatives to 999 if they are not facing a serious emergency”.

New national data, released today, shows that the time people spend waiting for an ambulance has risen.

Data from NHS England shows that people with potentially life-threatening conditions are sometimes waiting twice as long as they should be compared to national targets.

In a statement, a SECAmb spokesperson said: “We continue to experience periods where we are particularly busy and some patients are waiting longer while we prioritise our response to our most seriously ill and injured patients.#

"We urge people to only call 999 if they are facing a serious emergency. We urge people not to call us back unless a patient’s condition worsens or they no longer need our assistance – duplicate calls tie up our lines.

“The public can help by making use of alternatives to 999 if they are not facing a serious emergency, by calling 111 or visiting NHS 111 online at

"We have a variety of clinicians working across our 999 and 111 services to ensure patients are given expert help and can be directed to the most appropriate care if an ambulance response is not required.”