Ambulance response times in the South West are the longest in England - new data

The average ambulance response time to a life-threatening callout in the region was almost double the target time

Ambulance response times for the most serious life-threatening calls were longer in the South West than anywhere else in England.

Figures from NHS England show the region also recorded the highest number of category one incidents - these are calls that are classified as life-threatening and need immediate intervention and/or resuscitation.

The target ambulance response time for these callouts is seven minutes, but the South West average was almost double, clocking in at 13:11 minutes.

Last month, South Western Ambulance Service (SWAS) urged the public to think carefully before calling 999 due to the extreme post-Chrsitmas demand. The service declared a critical incident and said it might not be able to get all call-outs.

The service has also seen workers take industrial action on December 21 due to a pay dispute and had planned to do so again on December 28 though this was rescheduled. The postponed strike took place earlier this week on Wednesday (January 11). The service received military support during the industrial action with Army personnel being seen behind the wheel of ambulances in the city.

Across England, December recorded the highest number of category one callouts on record with 101,099 calls - almost a fifth higher than the previous record, 85,392. More than 10% of the country’s most serious call-outs were made in the South West, 14,928.

NHS National Medical Director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis, said: “As staff responded to record A&E attendances, 999 calls and emergency ambulance call outs as the ‘twindemic’ lead to unprecedented levels of respiratory illness in hospital, they also continued to deliver for patients with more people than ever before receiving diagnostic tests and cancer treatment.

“These figures show just how hard our staff are working, not only in the face of extreme pressure but also in bringing down the covid backlogs and checking more people for cancer than ever before in one month.

“The NHS will keep its foot on the accelerator to continue to make progress on the covid backlog and hospitals have today been asked to ensure anyone waiting longer than 18 months has their treatment booked in before March. While services continue to be pressured, it’s important the public continue to play their part by using the best services for their care – using 999 in an emergency and otherwise using 111 online and by getting their vaccinations if eligible.”