New Ambulance Response System – Service Response Time



The NHS is changing the way the emergency services respond and attend to those who are in need of medical attention. From 1st November, when you call 999, your emergency will be categorised into one of 4 categories.

Why Has there Been a Change?

Often times, ambulance services are measured on the time it takes for them to reach an emergency call which is often within 8 minutes. However, not all patients require such immediate attention which unnecessarily strains resources as sometimes more than one ambulance is sent at a time to reach the 8 minute target.

The Ambulance Response Team has been set up to overcome these inefficiencies so patients with life threatening emergencies can get help faster but also be transported quicker for proper treatment, first time round. This could mean that less serious cases may be referred to elsewhere or have to wait slightly longer but as a result, we increase the chances of saving someone with a life threatening emergency.

However, just because call handlers have more time to decide what service is required, it will not delay ambulances reaching you. Now, when you get connected to one of the handlers, they will ask you the following three questions:

Is the patient breathing?
Is the patient conscious?
Please describe exactly what happened.

They will then be grouping any 999 medical emergency call in one the following categories:

Category 1:
These are people with life-threatening injuries or diseases such as cardiac arrest or a serious allergic reaction.
Response time – 7 minutes

Category 2:
This is for emergency calls for conditions such as burns, epilepsy or strokes. The call handlers will advise what action to be taking until the ambulance arrives. A stroke patient under this new system can be taken for treatment quicker as the correct vehicle will be sent first time round.
Response time – 18 minutes

Category 3:
This is for urgent calls such as late stages of labour, non-severe burns and diabetes. This will include steps to take to treat in your home until the ambulance arrives. These calls will be responded to 90% of the time.
Response time – 120 minutes

Category 4:
This is for less urgent conditions such as diarrhoea, vomiting or urinary infection. Patients may be given advice over the phone or referred to a GP or pharmacist. These calls will be responded to 90% of the time.
Response time – 180 minutes

Emergency Alcohol Incidents: Drinking Safely

Sourced from The Daily Mail 2017

In 2016, the NHS has received over 80,000 alcohol related, 999 emergency calls which requires about 7% of staff to deal with these emergencies. On the weekends, this number can be even higher with 1 in every 5 calls being from someone who has had too much to drink. Aside from the primary health concerns for the individual who has drunk too much, it also draws away limited resources from those who may need it more.

Binge drinking can not only end in a messy night out with cuts, scraps and bruises but also lead to more serious health problems such as liver failure and even death. However there are simple steps that you can take to ensure that you enjoy the night out safely.


  • Keep track of how much you have already had to drink. It is much easier to stop yourself going over the limit when you know how much you’ve had.
  • Organize how you will be getting back home and don’t leave it up to chance. Planning with a friend can help avoid any unwanted accidents.
  • Drink smaller drinks and of lower concentration. You can enjoy your night for longer without a severe hangover a potential call to 999.
  • Don’t feel influenced to drink a certain amount from peer pressure. You do not have an obligation to drink which may just make you ill.


Taking these precautions into account can help move resources to where it’s needed. London air ambulance services do not usually attend to alcohol related issues as they are easily accessible by other forms of emergency service such as the road ambulance or ‘Booze buses’ common in the West End however it still increases the workload for staff sifting through urgent calls and overcrowded hospitals.

In turn, this can affect our ability to respond as fast to life-threatening injuries elsewhere in London. Therefore, ensuring that you safely have a fun night can actually save someone’s life.


Some Facts and Figures

  • In 2014, there were an estimated 1.1 million people who were admitted to hospital directly or indirectly from alcohol consumption.
  • Alcohol related cases cost the NHS about £3.6 million a year. That is a staggering amount of resources that could have been utilized more efficiently.
  • Alcohol related crimes have cost the government around £10 billion a year.


But there is also good news. Thanks to the growing awareness of binge drinking and unsafe consumption, in 2016 we saw a decrease in overall consumption by about 18%, which has lessened the burden on our emergency services and the taxpayers.