Londoners get faster ambulance response

Figures released today show that Londoners suffering from life-threatening illnesses and injuries are getting a quicker response from their ambulance service than ever before.

London Ambulance Service is celebrating its best ever year, having reached an extra 47,000 of the most seriously ill and injured patients within eight minutes compared to the previous year.

This was achieved despite tougher new ways of measuring response times and a rise in demand which saw the total number of emergency calls exceed 1.4 million for the first time during 2008/09.

Crews reached 75.5 per cent of patients assessed as being in an immediately life-threatening condition (Category A) within eight minutes, meeting the Government’s national performance target of 75 per cent.

Chief Executive Peter Bradley CBE said: “Our staff have done a terrific job this year and we have reached more patients, more quickly than ever before despite demand upon our Service going up.

“We have performed exceptionally well in what has been a very difficult year with the heavy snow just one of the challenges we faced.”

In 2008/09 the Service responded to almost 974,000 incidents, an increase of nearly three per cent on the previous year, of which nearly 320,000 were Category A calls.

From April 2008, the ‘clock’ used to measure the speed of response to a call changed so that it started once the caller was connected to the control room – rather than as previously when the caller’s telephone number and the patient’s location and nature of their illness or injury had been established.

Peter added: “The change means that our recorded response times now start approximately two minutes earlier than they did, while our actual target of eight minutes remains unchanged – so patients are getting a better service from us.

“Along with increased speed, staff have worked incredibly hard to provide high quality care to patients and we are looking to build on our success with the recruitment of 400 extra frontline staff this year so we can provide an even better service.

“However, we would continue to ask Londoners to use their ambulance service wisely by only calling 999 in the event of an emergency.”

Patients who are not seriously ill or injured should consider other ways of getting help before dialling 999, such as looking after themselves at home, calling NHS Direct on 0845 4647, or even making their own way to hospital

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Note to editors

In 2008/09 we responded to:

  • 75.5 per cent of Category A calls (immediately life-threatening) within eight minutes.
  • 99 per cent of Category A calls within 19 minutes.
  • 84.5 per cent of Category B calls (serious but not immediately life-threatening) within 19 minutes.

During 2008/09 we also:

  • Received a total of 1,423,496 emergency calls into our Emergency Operations Centre, compared to 1,389,660 in 2007/08.
  • Attended a total of 973,908 emergency incidents, compared to 945,776 in 2007/08 – of these, 319,677 were classed as Category A, compared to 315,744 in the 12 months before.
  • Responded to 241,517 Category A patients within eight minutes, compared to 194,350 the previous year.

For further information on the London Ambulance Service or this news release please contact the Communications Department on 020 7921 5113.