Ambulance Services: Emergency Calls

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 10th July 2018.

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Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Labour, Wallasey

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what information his Department holds on the average waiting time before a 999 ambulance call is answered in (a) Wirral, (b) Merseyside, (c) the North West and (d) England in each of the last 10 years.

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Labour, Wallasey

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what information his Department holds on the number of ambulance 999 calls that were (a) put on hold and (b) sent to voicemail in (a) England, (b) the North West and (c) Wirral in each of the last five years.

Photo of Stephen Barclay Stephen Barclay Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The information is not available in the format requested.

Following the implementation of the new national performance framework for ambulances from August 2017, call answer time performance is published at both national and ambulance trust level. The following table shows the mean and median average call answer times (in seconds) in England and for the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS).

Year

2017-18 (August-March)1

2018-19 (Year To Date)

Region

Mean

Median

Mean

Median

England

15

2

7

1

NWAS

36

3

14

1

Source: https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/ambulance-quality-indicators/

Notes:

  1. The medians for England and years in this table are means of trusts’ monthly medians, weighted by their count of calls, as published in the Ambulance Quality Indicator national statistics monthly files. The England figure for 2017/18 is calculated from a different subset of trusts each month due to the variation in start dates for reporting against the Ambulance Response Programme, and excludes the Isle of Wight.
  2. NWAS began reporting against the new framework on 7 August 2017.

Data prior to the implementation of the new framework, including median call answer times are available at ambulance trust level on a monthly basis from April 2011 to July 2017. Data for NWAS (in seconds) over this period is shown in the following table.

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

2017-18 (April-July)

April

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

May

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

June

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

July

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

August

1

1

1

1

1

1

N/A

September

1

1

1

1

1

1

N/A

October

1

1

1

1

1

1

N/A

November

1

1

1

3

1

1

N/A

December

1

1

1

1

1

1

N/A

January

1

1

1

1

1

1

N/A

February

1

1

1

1

1

1

N/A

March

1

1

1

1

1

1

N/A

Source: https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/statistical-work-areas/ambulance-quality-indicators/

While 999 calls at times may queue to be answered as soon as possible, NHS England has confirmed that NWAS does not place 999 calls on hold or send them to voicemail.

Placing calls on hold and the use of voicemail are not standard parts of the 999 call answer process and such information is not collected centrally.

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