Emergency services across the South issue warning ahead of England's opening World Cup match in Doha

During the Euro's SECAmb rceived 50 per cent more 999 calls in the hour after England’s semi-final victory

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) is asking people to think carefully before ringing 999 as it prepares for a higher demand due to the Football World Cup.

England face Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar later today (21/11) in their first game of the tournament.

In previous football tournaments, SECAmb has typically seen an increase in demand after the final whistle in big games. It is urging the public to enjoy the game sensibly and to only dial 999 in the event of a serious emergency.

Neville said he 'abhors' the working practices employed in preparation for the Qatar World Cup. Credit: PA

To lessen the impact on the ambulance service and the wider NHS, people are reminded, if they are not facing an emergency, to make use of alternatives such as NHS 111.

Last year, at Euro 2020, SECAmb received some 50 per cent more 999 calls in the hour after England’s semi-final victory than in the previous hour. During the game there was a dip in demand but in the hour after the final whistle, 999 control room staff answered 150 calls.

With evidence pointing to a link between high-profile football matches and an increase in domestic violence and abuse, SECAmb is also reminding people of help available to anyone who feels they or others they know are at risk.

SECAmb Executive Director of Operations, Emma Williams, said: “We know that many people will be looking forward to watching and cheering on their country of choice over the course of the next few weeks.

“We also know that large scale events, including football matches, especially those at later stages of an international tournament, can create addition demand on our services.

“We have even seen call volume drop during a big game, only for it to rise almost immediately after the final whistle. If anyone is truly facing an emergency they should never delay calling us, but if someone feels their call can wait until the end of a game, it’s very likely their call could be better managed elsewhere.

“The public can really help us manage our demand by keeping 999 for serious emergencies and by making use of alternatives for help and advice including NHS 111

“We urge people to be sensible if choosing to drink alcohol while watching any game and look after themselves and others to reduce the likelihood of having to call on the help of the ambulance service.”

Meanwhile, Kent Police will put on extra patrols in key locations during the World Cup.

In a tweet, the force said it will be working with local venues: "We will have increased patrols in key locations across Kent for the duration of the 2022 World Cup and have been working with pubs, clubs and bars to ensure everyone who wants to can enjoy the football in a safe and responsible manner."

"Don't hesitate to ask if you need our help."