Skip to main content

Ambulance Services: Standards

Volume 473: debated on Wednesday 12 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many times the ambulance service (a) did not meet the eight minute response target and (b) took over 15 minutes to respond to a Category A emergency in (i) north-east Essex, (ii) the east of England and (iii) England in 2006-07; (193425)

(2) what recent assessment he has made of the performance of the ambulance service in north-east Essex; and what steps he plans to take to improve their performance.

Information is not held centrally for ambulance response times in north-east Essex. The Department collects ambulance response time data that are recorded by ambulance trusts in their entirety.

The East of England Ambulance Service was formed on 1 July 2006, following the reconfiguration of ambulance trusts in England, and met the Category A eight-minute target for that reporting period (2006-07). Response time data for the trusts that merged to form the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust before 2006 and for England are available in the annual KA34 Statistical Bulletin ‘Ambulance Services, England 2006-07’.

Copies of the bulletins are available in the Library and the bulletin for 2006-07 is also available at the following website:

Information on how many times an ambulance service took more than 15 minutes to respond to a Category A emergency is not collected centrally.

The Department monitors performance of ambulance services at ambulance trust level, therefore such information on north-east Essex is not held centrally. It is for strategic health authorities (SHAs), as the local headquarters of the national health service, and primary care trusts, as commissioners, to ensure that national response time standards are delivered and maintained by ambulance trusts.

In April 2008, changes to performance reporting will be introduced, which will align the reported response times more closely to patients' experience. The Department is supporting ambulance trusts to prepare for this change by providing advice and specialist support, and facilitating the sharing of data, analysis and best practice.

The Department implemented a £25 million capital incentive scheme during 2006-07. A similar scheme operated in 2004-05. Both schemes rewarded trusts who demonstrated improved levels of performance including response times.