Health: ‘Government must act now on rising 999 demand’

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Month after month we are faced with headlines about ambulance services struggling to cope.

Worrying news that more than 6,000 of the most serious emergency 999 calls to the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) were not reached within the target of eight minutes last year came out last week.

The statistics released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) made for stark reading but the suggestion trusts are facing “unprecedented levels of demand” is by no means a false claim.

Further analysis of the figures shows that the cash-strapped trust has seen the number of the most serious ‘Red 1’ calls rocket by nearly 25 per cent from 15,500 to 20,200 in the two years since 2012/13.

Add to the that the substantial increase in ‘Red 2’ calls, which went from 206,500 in 2012/13 to 277,500 last year, and YAS’s failure to reach 75 per cent of either Red 1 or 2 calls within eight minutes is not so surprising.

Overall HSCIC claim that last year saw a record nine million emergency 999 calls, which is a 6.1 per cent increase on 2013/14.

By looking closely at the statistics it’s quite easy to see where the problems stem, particularly in a climate in which NHS trusts are continuously being asked to do more with less.

Admittedly there are issues linked to people calling 999 when their condition doesn’t warrant emergency response but the fact of the matter is that as the population grows so does demand.

There is only so much trusts can do with dwindling budgets. It’s about time we saw investment that matched increased need.


The Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) responded to 69.9 per cent of the 20,200 Red 1 calls it received within the target eight minutes.

YAS ranked third worst of the 11 English ambulance trusts for on-time response to Red 1 calls in 2014/15.

Around 277,500 Red 2 emergency calls resulted in an emergency response from YAS in 2014/15 as opposed to 206,500 the year prior.

In 2014/15 YAS resolved 37,000 999 emergency calls over the phone – around 7.9 per cent of all calls – compared to 25,100 being resolved by phone in 2011/12.

English ambulance trusts received nine million 999 calls in 2014/15.