WEST Midlands Ambulance Service says New Year's Eve was the busiest ever as a desperate appeal for staff who have left to return to help them cope with Covid pressures.

And WMAS chief executive has revealed staff were abused on the night by some of the callers.

WMAS has said that the whole 12-hour period, after 6pm, was busy with the trust taking 1,281 calls between 6pm up until midnight. The previous busiest year for this six hour period was 2017-18 when WMAS took 1,066 calls.

After midnight, until 6am, the Trust took 1,721 calls - the busiest since 2007-08 when it took 1,570 calls.

The pressures had followed one of the busiest Christmas periods ever, WMAS said.

“I would once again pay tribute to the astonishing efforts of our staff who continue to work so incredibly hard," Anthony Marsh, trust chief executive, said.

"Thousands of our staff were working while much of the UK was celebrating the start of a new year.

“Again, the staff in our control rooms were particularly busy. They are the front door to our service and play a vital role in triaging the calls that come in.

“Given what an important role they play, it is disappointing so many of them reported being abused over the phone by callers. All they are trying to do is find out as much detail about the patient as possible; it doesn’t delay the arrival of an ambulance – it just means the crew are better prepared for the situation they respond to.

“As we move into what is traditionally, the busiest period the year for the NHS, it is more important than ever that we all play our part in using the health service responsibly.

“I would ask everyone to consider using 111 online in the first instance unless it is a life-threatening emergency. We will continue to prioritise patients so that we get to those in most need first.

“I would also urge everyone who has not yet had their booster jab to get it as soon as possible - you will be reducing the pressures on the NHS.”

Meanwhile WMAS says despite recruiting hundreds of additional staff in its control rooms and in ambulances it is now appealing for staff who have left to come back to help.

Mr Marsh said: “We are once again, looking for any staff who retired within the last two years or are working in the private sector for the likes of events medical companies who would like to come back into the NHS family to get in touch.

“We are particularly looking for people who worked on an ambulance or in one of our control rooms to contact us. We have already had former members of staff get in touch who went on a career break offering to come back, which we welcome.

“Over the last couple of years, we know that several staff have retired from our service after giving many years of outstanding care to the public.

“We would like those colleagues to consider returning to WMAS so that we can increase the quality and amount of care that we can provide the public in these challenging times.”

“For those who have retired, I know how much the time you spent with us meant to you; many of you have told me that when we have spoken.

"I wouldn’t ask you to re-join if I didn’t think it was the right thing for the public of the West Midlands and our patients.”

For those interested in re-joining the Service, please email Recruitment Manager Louise Jones at louise.jones@wmas.nhs.uk in the first instance, letting her know your previous role.