Ambulance bosses have thanked staff, volunteers and patients for the hard work of frontline teams and using NHS services wisely over the Christmas period.

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) revealed that on Christmas Eve it received 2,898 calls, 25 per cent less than last year when call handlers dealt with 3,850 calls.

This year saw 3,109 calls on Christmas Day, 19 per cent less than 2017 when it received 3,843 calls.

The control rooms then handled 3,662 calls on Boxing Day, a decrease of 14 per cent compared to last year's 4,247.

Kevin Brown, chief operating officer for EEAST, said: "I would like to thank staff and volunteers who have worked tirelessly over the Christmas period to ensure our patients are safe and get the most appropriate response for their needs.

"The response to our sickest patients well exceeded our plans. This is thanks to patients who used the NHS wisely, as well as the commitment of our staff and community-based volunteer first responders. Our winter plan has been used effectively and helped us provide the best care for patients at a very busy time of year."

The trust said it has been working closely with its NHS partners to manage demand and delays to handover of care at hospitals and ensure patients received safe and effective care.

The public are encouraged to continue to think about how they use NHS services, including the NHS website, pharmacies, NHS 111, walk-in centres and GP surgeries for medical advice.

Mr Brown added: "The period between now and the new year is still a busy time and I would urge people to continue using NHS services wisely. Please only call 999 in an emergency".

"We would like to wish everyone a happy and a safe New Year. Remember that while you are enjoying time with family and friends, our staff are working to help people and keep them safe.

Between December 21-26, the East of England Ambulance Service responded to category one life-threatening emergencies on average in seven minutes and 12 seconds, with nine out of 10 patients getting a response in 13 minutes and 21 seconds

The service met all category two emergencies, category three and four urgent calls within the agreed target times.

In 2017, EEAST experienced its busiest Christmas ever with higher than expected levels of demand

Last winter, EEAST received more than 4,100 calls on New Year's Eve and 4,800 on New Year's Day.