Tens of thousands waiting too long for 999 calls to be answered in England

Posted: May 16th 2022


A second story demonstrating just how challenging simply holding the line in terms of minimum reliable levels of emergency health service delivery are and by reflection the real risks in terms of emergency medicine facing those distant from urban centres. This story tells us:

Tens of thousands of emergency calls are taking more than two minutes to be answered in England amid a crisis in the ambulance service, The Independent has learned.

More than 37,000 emergency calls took more than two minutes to answer in April 2022 – 24 times the 1,500 that took that long in April 2021, according to a leaked staff message.

April’s figures were slightly down compared to March, The Independent understands, when 44,000 calls took more than two minutes to answer.

The deterioration in 999 calls being answered within the 60-second goal comes as ambulance services across the UK have been placed under huge pressures.

The latest NHS data showed long delays in response times for ambulance services with stroke or suspected heart attack patients waiting more than 50 minutes on average.

Response times are being driven by ambulances being held up outside of A&Es because emergency departments are unable to take patients.

In March, there were likely to have been more than 4,000 instances of severe harm caused to patients as a result of ambulances being delayed by more than 60 minutes.

Data also showed 21,639 handover delays lasted for more than 120 minutes. This data is not published by NHS England.

In a message sent by West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) on Thursday, staff were told new data from BT showed 37,107emergency calls in England took more than two minutes to answer in April. NHS England data shows there were 806,000 calls answered overall in April.