How long it takes to get to an emergency varies a great deal – when a 999 call is made the call taker gives the emergency a category from 1-4. Category 1 calls are the most serious which means the patient is not breathing or their heart has stopped beating. The target is to get to these calls in under 8 minutes. However for less serious calls such as category 3 and 4 calls patients can wait a little while as more serious calls take priority. In some cases patients can end up waiting about an hour – but these patients are not normally seriously ill.
Amelia - GP commented on :
This is an interesting question. As Rob says, ambulances have target times. Sometimes they are very busy and they can struggle to get to all the patients who need an ambulance within the target time. It’s important that we all use our services wisely and only call for an ambulance if we really need emergency support. Other options if you need help but it’s not an emergency are to call 111 rather than 999, to visit your GP or a Minor injuries unit.