West Midlands Ambulance Service response times soar for most urgent calls

West Midlands Ambulance Service response times for the most serious incidents, e.g., cardiac arrests, have increased to 8 minutes and 19 seconds in December compared to November, new Ambulance Service Statistics have revealed.

The statistics, released from NHS England, show that average waiting times for serious incidents have worsened in every region in England over the past month, failing to meet both the Category 1 and Category 2 callout times.

WM Ambulance Service (WMAS)

Locally, the statistics show that when comparing November to last month, ambulance waiting times for calls in the West Midlands worsened further, with patients across the area being left to wait even longer when they called an ambulance.

Waiting times for Category 1 calls in the West Midlands reached highs of 8 minutes and 19 seconds in December, well over the 7-minute NHS target.

In addition, urgent Category 2 callouts have worsened in the West Midlands, with the average waiting time in December of 48 minutes and 19 seconds. This is a 23 percent increase on November’s waiting times.

The standard waiting time for a “Category 1” incident should be no longer than 7 minutes due to the urgency of the matter, meaning current waiting times are well in excess of NHS targets. Similarly, the NHS target for "Category 2" is 18 minutes, meaning almost all of the most urgent calls for ambulance services are being missed.

Liberal Democrats are calling for the Government to commission an investigation by the Care Quality Commission without further delay.

Laura McCarthy, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Solihull Council, said:

“It is disastrous that our local NHS services are under such severe pressure. We need real investment in our area with a plan from the Government.

“The Conservatives have taken the West Midlands for granted for decades and now we’re seeing local patients and families pay the price.

2020 Solihull Ambulance Station Petition

“It is for this very reason that Liberal Democrats in Solihull petitioned against the closures of local Ambulance Stations in Hermitage Road and Solihull Hospital. Sadly, our warnings at the time fell on deaf ears and local residents are now paying the price for such short-sighted thinking.

“The Government needs to step up and stop taking our area for granted. Health service waiting times across the board are struggling, our local health staff are under immense pressure, and it looks as if things are getting even worse.”

NHS England’s Ambulance Quality Indicators

NHS England’s Ambulance Quality Indicators, published on 13 January 2022, are available at https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/ambulance-quality-indicators/

These figures refer to Category 1 incidents: An immediate response to a life-threatening condition, such as cardiac or respiratory arrest.

The NHS target is an average response time to these incidents of 7 minutes, and for 90% of them to be responded to within 15 minutes.

The NHS target for Category 2 is 18 minutes.

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