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