'Shockingly bad' ambulance response times over double national target

Ambulance

Ambulance response times at the EEAST for C2 emergencies had an average of 49 minutes and 50 seconds - Credit: Simon Parker

East Anglian MPs are to interrogate ambulance trust chiefs after it was revealed emergency ambulance response times in the region are more than double the national target.

Suffolk Coastal MP, Thérèse Coffey labelled the latest East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) figures as "shockingly bad".

Patients suffering from Category 2 emergencies - which include heart attacks, strokes and sepsis - had an average wait of 49 minutes and 50 seconds for an ambulance.

The national target is currently set at 18 minutes.

Results from the NHS' Ambulance Quality Indicators

Results from the NHS' Ambulance Quality Indicators - Credit: Archant

Dr Coffey said: "At my invitation, the chief executive and other senior members of the ambulance service are coming to Parliament early next month where East Anglian MPs will have an opportunity to interrogate them.

"I’ll be asking them to account for these numbers and will challenge them on the turnaround plan.”

Thérèse Coffey

Suffolk Coast MP, Thérèse Coffey, labelled the figures "shockingly bad". - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The latest data, which comes from the NHS' Ambulance Quality Indicators, showed the average C2 response times for England to be at 39 minutes and 58 seconds.

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This means the East of England is almost 10 minutes over the rest of the country.

Figures also show EEAST's response times to be almost double what they were this time last year, with May 2021 being at 25 minutes and 31 seconds. 

Despite this increase, last month's figures show improvement since February 2022, with response times having reached as high as one hour and 22 minutes in March.

For Category 1 emergencies, which are classed as life-threatening conditions, the EEAST response time for May 2022 was nine minutes and 55 seconds - almost three minutes over the national target.

This is over two minutes higher than the trust's May 2021 figure, seven minutes and 31 seconds, and over one minute higher than England's May 2022 average of eight minutes, 36 seconds.

A spokesperson for the EEAST said: "The NHS has experienced sustained high demand and we have been working hard with partner organisations to reduce waiting times and hospital handover delays, as we know the impact they have on patients.

East of England Ambulance Sevices Hospital Lane

A spokesman for the EEAST said: “The public can help us reach the patients who need us most urgently by using alternatives to 999 in non-urgent cases, such as NHS 111” - Credit: Brittany Woodman

“The public can help us reach the patients who need us most urgently by using alternatives to 999 in non-urgent cases, such as NHS 111.”  

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The NHS has been allocated £150million of additional funding to address pressures on ambulance services, with the number of ambulance and support staff increasing by almost 40% since February 2010.

“We have established a national taskforce to identify ways to ensure patients are only in hospital for as long as they need to be, and we are tackling the Covid backlogs by setting up surgical hubs and community diagnostic centres – over 90 of which are already open and have delivered over one million additional checks.”