Demand on ambulance staff and volunteers was at record levels over the Christmas period this year, new figures have revealed.

Across the area covered by the East of England Ambulance Service, staff handled a total of 6,849 calls between 7pm on Christmas Eve and 11pm on Boxing Day.

This is compared to 6,021 in the same period last year.

And on December 27, 3,624 calls were handled, compared to 2,846 last year.

In Cambridgeshire alone, ambulance staff dealt with 1,016 calls between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, compared with 805 last year.

Sandy Brown, director of nursing and clinical quality, thanked members of the service "in the midst of unprecedented demand".

She said: "I'm very thankful to our teams for the hard work they are putting into responses to patients, and with call demand up so much higher than last year, their commitment really does shine through.

"These spikes in demand are experienced nationally and are hard to explain, but as we see colder weather affect people who are vulnerable of norovirus and other transferrable illnesses, we do urge people to use their common sense - try and minimise risks so something doesn't worsen and then need emergency treatment."

The news comes amid pressure on hospitals across the region, with Hinchingbrooke Hospital, in Huntingdon, also facing heavy demand on its resources.

In the run up to Christmas, the Hinchingbrooke Healthcare NHS Trust warned patients thinking of coming to the accident and emergency department to consider using other services, citing "serious capacity issues".

From December 18-21, the hospital saw 438 patients arrive at A&E, leaving it struggling to meet its four-hour treatment target for patients.

For more information, advice and directions to help about staying well, visit www.eastamb.nhs.uk, on Facebook and on Twitter using #winterwise.