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13 July 2014, 10:07 | Updated: 13 July 2014, 10:15
Paramedics are taking a minute longer to reach patients at risk - but at least one trust disputes the figures, a study suggests.
Paramedics Taking Longer To Reach Patients At Risk
Labour have flagged up the NHS England figures, suggesting in some areas of the UK, heart attack and stroke victims have to wait almost three minutes more to be seen by a paramedic. Category A calls where a patient's life is in danger should arrive within 8 minutes.
In the East of England (inc. Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire), ambulances are taking some 2.8 minutes longer to respond to the most serious calls. In the East Midlands (inc. Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire), ambulances are taking 2.3 minutes longer compared to three years ago.
But an East Midlands Ambulance Service spokesperson cast doubt on the data. ''EMAS is an improving organisation and hit all of its key performance standards during the first quarter of 2014. The method used nationally to measure response times changed between years so the figures quoted do not compare like with like.
The figure of 489 seconds for May 2014 uses the new criteria and is correct. However, if the new measurement criteria were applied to the May 2013 figure, it would read 476 rather than 376. This means the change from 2013 to 2014 is 13 seconds."
The chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service said the service was dealing with delays by recruiting extra paramedics and putting additional ambulances on the road.
Dr Anthony Marsh said: "We are putting more staff on the front line and reducing the number of cars to increase the number of ambulances.
We are recruiting 400 student paramedics by April 2015, the first group of which are already working from ambulance stations across the region, as well as up-skilling our existing emergency medical technicians and emergency care assistants.
Additional ambulances are also on the road, and we launched a replacement programme to ensure no ambulance in our fleet is older than five years by next spring."
In Buckinghamshire, the South Central Ambulance Service are running an average of around 6 minutes to the most urgent calls.