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Ambulance Services: Standards

Volume 503: debated on Wednesday 6 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what clinical evidence was used to establish the target emergency response time for (a) Category A patients at eight minutes and (b) Category B patients at 19 minutes; and what research his Department has (i) commissioned and (ii) evaluated on the effectiveness of those response times. (307428)

The eight minute response time standard for Category A (immediately life-threatening) calls is based on clinical evidence that shows that within the first 10 minutes of a sudden cardiac arrest, a patient's survival rate improves 10 per cent. for every minute that is saved by getting the defibrillator to the patient (Eisenberg, Horwood and Cummins 1990). Category B offers a fast response for those patients presenting conditions that are serious but not immediately life-threatening.

In 2006, The Department commissioned an evaluation on ambulance response time targets from the University of Sheffield titled ‘The costs and benefits of changing ambulance service response time performance standards’.