EMERGENCY calls to the ambulance service in Cambridgeshire were down during the New Year celebrations - but it was still a great deal more than an average night.

Paramedics responded to 262 calls in the county between 3pm on December 31 and 7am on January 1, which was 41 fewer than the previous year.

However in the same period between December 1 and 2 2012, the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) responded to 153 calls in the county. Over the night of December 3 and 4, that number was just 96.

Neil Storey, director of emergency operations for EEAS, said: “While a downward trend, however slight, is good news and a sign that perhaps people are taking note of our advice, it's still a very busy start to the year.”

However he also said there had been changes to the way 999 calls are handled, most notably the Right Call message which explains to callers how more important calls are prioritised.

“Those not in life threatening situations should expect to wait longer for an ambulance response, which in some minor cases may be telephone advice, depending on their need as assessed using a comprehensive system by our highly trained clinical call handlers,” he said.

“We have dedicated clinical support desks in the control rooms to support patients with minor conditions as appropriately as possible without the need to send an ambulance.”

Mr Storey also urged members of the public to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation, adding: “Learning to save a life can mean that if someone near you collapses and is unconscious, your actions could make the difference between life and death.”