Ambulance response time targets are being missed across the whole of Merseyside - worst area revealed

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“This stark postcode lottery means that if you suffer a heart attack or stroke, your chances of getting to hospital on time depend on where you happen to live.”

New figures have revealed exactly how long patients are waiting for ambulances, across Merseyside.

Uncovered by the Liberal Democrats through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, figures were provided by all ten ambulance trusts in England, revealing local figures on response times that aren’t published in the regular region-wide data.

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The research covers 227 local areas in England, showing the worsening picture across the country. The shocking data also revealed that not one local area in the country is meeting both Category 1 and Category 2 response time targets.

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS), which covers Merseyside and the North West, said it is under ‘extreme pressure’ but working to get to patients as quickly as possible.

Ambulance crews across England, including the NWAS, will go on strike over pay and staffing levels on two confirmed dates in December, Unison, GMB and Unite have confirmed. The walkout will be on Wednesday December 21 and Wednesday December 28.

Targets and categories of callouts

Ambulances are supposed to reach the most serious callouts, which are listed as category one calls, within seven minutes. Across Merseyside, that target was missed in 2021/22, with only Liverpool coming close to the target, with an average of seven minutes and nine seconds.

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The target to reach category two calls, which can include stroke and heart attack patients, is 18 minutes. However, across Merseyside, North West Ambulance Service drastically missed this target, with the shortest average wait time in the region being 56 minutes and 28 seconds in Wirral.

St Helens had the worst wait times for both categories.

Ambulance waiting times across Merseyside

Average Category 1 response times (in minutes) in 2021/22 in Merseyside

  • St Helens: 09:27
  • Sefton: 09:09
  • Wirral: 09:05
  • Knowsley: 08:55
  • Liverpool: 07:09

Average Category 2 response times (in hours and minutes) in 2021/22 in Merseyside

  • St Helens: 1:04:04
  • Knowsley: 1:03:49
  • Liverpool: 1:02:26
  • Sefton: 1:01:25
  • Wirral: 0:56:28

Worst areas in England

10 worst areas in England for average Category 1 response times (in minutes) in 2021/22 in England

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  1. Mid Devon: 15:20
  2. West Devon: 15:12
  3. South Hams: 14:44
  4. Cotswold: 14:27
  5. Ribble Valley: 14:09
  6. Cornwall: 13:50
  7. NHS South Lincolnshire CCG: 13:43
  8. Vale of White Horse SW: 13:14
  9. Forest of Dean: 13:10
  10. Sevenoaks: 13:09

10 worst areas for Category 2 response times (in hours and minutes) in 2021/22 in England

  1. Cornwall: 1:41:22
  2. NHS Lincolnshire East CCG: 1:15:00
  3. South Gloucestershire: 1:11:47
  4. North Somerset: 1:09:53
  5. NHS North East Lincolnshire: 1:09:25
  6. City of Bristol: 1:09:08
  7. NHS North Lincolnshire CCG: 1:08:43
  8. Cotswold: 1:07:54
  9. Forest of Dean: 1:07:09
  10. NHS South Lincolnshire CCG: 1:06:49

What has been said?

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said: “These heart-breaking figures show that in every corner of the country, targets are being missed and patients are being left waiting far too long for an ambulance to arrive.

“This stark postcode lottery means that if you suffer a heart attack or stroke, your chances of getting to hospital on time depend on where you happen to live.

“Every day we hear more and more devastating stories of pensioners left stranded for hours, or families watching a loved one die before a paramedic could reach them. Our overstretched local NHS services are collapsing under the strain of years of neglect under this Conservative government.

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“Ministers must bring forward extra support to get ambulance services through winter as well as a long-term strategy to ensure people can get emergency care when they need it. That means addressing workforce shortages, fixing the social care crisis and ending the shortage of hospital beds, all of which are leaving patients in ambulances stuck outside A&E for hours.”

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