THE East of England Ambulance service answered nearly double the amount of calls in Essex during the new year celebrations than a normal night.

In Essex there were 613 calls between 7pm on New Years Eve and 7am on New Years Day, compared to 623 in 2011.

This was double the amount just four weeks earlier where 329 calls were taken between 7pm on December 1 and 7am the following morning. The amount of Essex based calls was nearly double that of second placed county Hertfordshire, where 347 calls were made.

A total of 1,970 calls were put to the service between 7pm and 7am the next day - which is an average of more than 164 an hour. Staff were able to respond to 893 calls on the night.

Despite these high figures, the numbers were down on 2011, when 1,989 calls were placed.

The ambulance service had prepared for the busiest night of the year with ‘see and treat’ tents and SOS buses in town centres. There were also temporary minor injuries units which were able to help.

Director for Emergency Operations Neil Storey said: "My thanks and praise go out to all our staff and volunteers who worked during this difficult shift. 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.”