Record number of 999 calls for London Ambulance Service

The London Ambulance Service received a record number of 999 calls between April 2011 and March 2012 – making it the busiest year ever for medics.

According to figures released today, over 1.6m calls were made for an ambulance last year – an increase of nearly 112,000.

Despite the increase in demand, Londoners suffering from life-threatening illnesses and injuries are continuing to get a fast response from their ambulance service.

Ambulance crews reached 75.74 per cent of the most critically ill patients – such as those having chest pain, in serious road traffic accidents or victims of stabbings or shootings – within eight minutes. This is the ninth year in a row that the Service has achieved this national target.

Deputy Director of Operations, Paul Woodrow, said: “There is an ever increasing demand on our service but we’re still getting a fast response to our most critically ill and injured patients.

“To ensure that an ambulance is available for those who need us most, I would urge Londoners with less serious illnesses such as sore throats, skin complaints, earaches or minor injuries – to consider other health care providers in the community.

“This will help us manage the increasing demand on our service – which includes an increase in the number of critically ill Londoners who need our help.”

In 2011/12 medics attended 390,229 patients with life-threatening conditions (category A patients) up from 347,675 in 2010/11.

Paul said: “We have had our most successful year ever despite increased demand.

“Our staff work extremely hard, not only to get to our patients quickly, but to provide them with an excellent standard of care.”

While the Service received a record number of 999 calls last year, it attended fewer incidents. The Service sent an ambulance response to 1,041,739 patients between April 2011 and March 2012. This is 16,393 fewer ambulance journeys than the year before.

Paul said: “Not everyone who dials 999 will be sent an ambulance. Callers with less serious illnesses or injuries may be referred to NHS Direct or given clinical advice over the phone.

“Patients with minor illnesses will be better cared for by their GPs, pharmacists and walk- in healthcare centres.”

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.

– Ends –

Note to editors

Between April 2011 and March 2012 we responded to:

  • 75.74 per cent of Category A calls (immediately life-threatening) within eight minutes
  • 99.15 per cent of Category A calls within 19 minutes – exceeding the 95 per cent target

We also:

  • received a total of 1,605,956 emergency calls into our emergency operations centre, compared to 1,494,207 in 20010/11
  • attended a total of 1,041,739 emergency incidents, compared to 1,058,132 in 2010/11 – of these, 390,229 were classed as category A, compared to 347,675 in the previous 12 months
  • responded to 295,551 category A patients within eight minutes, compared to 261,243 the previous year
  • conveyed 735,270 patients to a hospital accident and emergency department, compared to 785,014 the year before, and conveyed 74,127 to an appropriate care centre, such as a minor injuries unit, compared to 27,578 the previous year
  • attended 232,342 incidents where we did not convey a patient for further medical treatment
  • gave clinical advice over the phone to 70,842 patients with minor illnesses or injuries – up from 50,058 the year before.

For further information about the London Ambulance Service or this news release please contact the communications department on 020 7783 2286.

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