South East Coast Ambulance Service has admitted some patients are having to wait longer than they should as it deals with thousands of extra calls over the Easter break.
Over the past few days, the service has dealt with more than 3,000 calls a day and some patients, especially those who are not in a life-threatening condition, are waiting longer than they should for a response.
SECAmb, which covers East and West Sussex, Kent, Surrey, and parts of north east Hampshire, say they are expecting to answer in excess of 10,000 calls over the Easter bank holiday weekend.
The service is urging people not to call 999 unless it is a genuine emergency - and reminding patients of the alternative options available. These include seeking help and advice from NHS 111 online by visiting 111.nhs.uk or by calling 111.
The service is also asking people to check on any vulnerable family or friends throughout the weekend to make sure they are safe and have everything they need.
SECAmb Medical Director, Dr Fionna Moore, said: “Bank Holiday weekends are always a busy time for the ambulance service and this four-day weekend comes at a time when there is already high pressure on our service.
“We know that this weekend will be challenging due to continuing high demand and pressure on our resources including covid-related staff absences.
“Our staff in our Emergency Operations Centres, crews out on the road and teams of volunteer community first responders will be working hard to get everyone who needs us the help they require.
"We urge anyone who is not facing a life-threatening or serious situation to make use of alternatives including visiting NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk or by calling 111.
“We also want to remind people that while Covid restrictions have lifted, there are still high numbers of people becoming infected.
"If people are meeting, it’s a really good idea to make use of the expected fine weather this weekend and either meet outside or let plenty of fresh air circulate inside through open windows.
“Finally, I would like wish everyone a safe and happy Easter and thank all our staff and volunteers and also our colleagues across the NHS and fellow blue light services for their hard work serving our communities throughout the weekend.”