Public Could Help Speed Up Ambulance Times

999 paramedic ambulances operated by the NHS South Central Ambulance service, fall below UK average but remain above nationally set targets.

South Central Ambulance emergency response times have fallen below the national average, but remain just within the English targets of 75% of 999 ambulance calls to arrive at scene within 8 minutes (Category A).

In 2010-11, the percentage of South Central Ambulances arriving within 8 minutes was 77.5%, in 2011-12 that had fallen to 75.9% - which is also now below the England average of 96.2%.

Category A calls present conditions, which may be immediately life threatening and should receive an emergency response within 8 minutes irrespective of location in 75% of cases. Presenting conditions, which require a fully equipped ambulance vehicle to attend the incident, must have an ambulance vehicle arrive within 19 minutes of the request for transport being made in 95% of cases, unless the control room decides that an ambulance is not required.

Category B: presenting conditions, which though serious are not immediately life threatening and must receive a response within 19 minutes in 95% of cases. 

Category C: presenting conditions which are not immediately serious or life threatening. For these calls the response time standards are not set nationally but are locally determined.

* The total number of emergency calls was 8.49 million in the UK, a 415,487 increase over last year when there were 8.08m. 6.71 million calls (79.0%) resulted in an emergency response arriving at the scene of the incident, 104,054 increase over last year when there were 6.61m.

*The percentage of category A incidents that resulted in an emergency response arriving at the scene of the incident within 8 minutes in 2011-12 was 76.2% compared to 74.9% last year.

* Of the 12 NHS organisations providing ambulance services, all exceeded the 75 per cent standard for 8-minute response times.

John Fox, from the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel told Heart: "Sadly some of the people who use our valuable resource are not using it when it's an emergency. Those people we should be targeting the message to ensure we can keep our resource only for the people with most need. 

Mr Fox added: "We need South Central to invest money and resources in ensuring they have as many clinical telephone advice technicians available as possible to deal with the non-life threatening calls - so we can then free up the resources to ensure those in most need can be dealt with most quickly."

We asked the South Central Ambulance Service to respond but they have told Heart they will be not be issuing a statement or response on this occasion. 

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