UK & World News
Ambulance Response Times 'Putting Lives At Risk'
Ambulances are taking longer to reach patients suffering from life-threatening conditions compared to three years ago, according to Labour.
Figures from NHS England suggest that in some areas of the UK, heart attack and stroke victims have to wait almost three minutes more to be seen by a paramedic.
Category A calls where a patient's life is in danger should arrive within eight minutes. But ambulances are taking more than a minute longer to arrive on average and experts warn this is putting lives at risk.
Dr Dale Webb, director of research and information at the Stroke Association, said: "When a stroke strikes, the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off which causes brain cells in the affected area to die.
"So time lost is brain lost. These figures are a concern because stroke patients need to get specialist treatment as soon as possible."
In the East of England, ambulances are taking some 2.8 minutes longer to respond to the most serious calls. In the East Midlands, ambulances are taking 2.3 minutes longer compared to three years ago.
However, East Midlands Ambulance Service spokesperson cast doubt on the data saying the service had hit all of its key performance standards during the first quarter of 2014.
He said: ''The method used nationally to measure response times changed between years so the figures quoted do not compare like with like."
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, said: "These figures raise real concerns that lives are being put at risk by the chaos in the NHS.
"Hospital A&E departments have missed the Government's waiting time target for the last 51 weeks running. This crisis in A&E has trapped ambulances in queues outside hospitals - leaving the next caller facing longer, agonising waits. More and more calls are being attended by police cars and even fire engines on David Cameron's watch."
A Department of Health spokesman said: "We know some ambulance trusts are under pressure, carrying out over 850 more journeys every day since 2010, but the NHS continues to respond to the majority of the most life threatening cases in less than eight minutes."