Ambulance response times
The Department of Health requires that the ambulance service reaches 75% of category A (life-threatening) calls within eight minutes. If onward transport is required a suitable vehicle should arrive on the scene within 19 minutes.
NHS England measures response times for ambulances as patient outcomes can be improved by ensuring patients with immediately life-threatening conditions receive a defibrillator and timely response to ambulance calls.
Ambulance calls that are classed as life threatening are categorised as Category A calls. From June 2013 these were further separated into Red 1 and Red 2 calls.
- Red 1 calls are the most time critical and cover cardiac arrest patients who are not breathing and do not have a pulse, and other severe conditions.
- Red 2 calls are serious but less immediately time critical and cover conditions such as stroke and fits.
Response time commitments are set out in the NHS 2010/11 Operating Framework as:
- A8: 75% of Category A (immediately life threatening) calls should receive a response within eight minutes.
- A19: if a Category A patient requires transport, this should arrive within 19 minutes of the request for transport being made, 95% of the time.
For the purposes of the A8 standard, an emergency response may only be by:
- An emergency ambulance; or
- A rapid response vehicle equipped with a defibrillator to provide treatment at the scene; or
- An approved first responder equipped with a defibrillator, who is accountable to the ambulance service; or when a healthcare professional is at the location of the incident, equipped with a defibrillator and deemed clinically appropriate to respond by the trust.
Further guidance can be found at NHS England, Ambulance Quality Indicators.