Some Britons wait more than NINE minutes for 999 calls to be answered as warning delays are ‘life-threatening’

BRITS have had to wait more than nine minutes in some parts of the UK for their 999 calls to be answered with delays described as “life-threatening”.

Some callers wait so long that they spend more time reporting their emergency than it should take for the ambulance to arrive.

Some Britons have to wait more than nine minutes for their 999 calls to be answered (stock image)


Some Britons have to wait more than nine minutes for their 999 calls to be answered (stock image)Photo credit: Getty

The latest data from NHS England shows that the wait time for calls to be answered varies widely across the country.

Calls to 999 are initially answered by a BT operator who will pass requests for an ambulance to the local trust.

NHS England expects trusts to answer these calls within ten seconds.

But the national average in England was almost three times that in April at 28 seconds.

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Calls from West Midlands residents are answered in just three seconds on average, the fastest in the country.

However, unlucky callers in the South West should expect a wait of one minute and 20 seconds.

As if that wasn’t long enough, one in 100 callers in Yorkshire had to wait a whopping nine minutes and 28 seconds to speak to someone in April.

For comparison: An ambulance should arrive within seven minutes in the case of the most urgent life-threatening emergencies.

In addition, all patients should be referred to the emergency room within 15 minutes of arrival at the hospital.

But the South Western and South Central ambulance trusts, like Yorkshire, have also caused one in 100 people to wait over the seven-minute mark.

The data suggests that at these three trusts, thousands of people were still waiting in line when their ambulance was supposed to reach them.

Separate statistics show that patients then have to wait longer than they should for an ambulance to show up, and even longer to be handed over to doctors in the emergency room.

dr Katherine Henderson, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, dropped a bombshell about emergency services last month.

She admitted she would order a cab to take her family to the emergency room instead of dialing 999 because the delays were so bad.

Delays may have been caused by the 1,000 ambulance workers who have left their jobs since 2018 in search of a better work-life balance, more pay or early retirement, according to an ambulance workers’ union.

The British Heart Foundation called the life-threatening delays “deeply concerning” and warned that “every minute counts”.

dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, deputy medical director of the British Heart Foundation and consultant cardiologist, said: “When someone is having a heart attack or stroke, every minute counts.

“Any delay in treatment can result in permanent damage to the heart or brain.”

NHS England is advising people to only dial 999 in emergencies and to turn to other services such as 111 in non-life threatening circumstances.

And the service has claimed that half of all ambulance calls in England are answered in three seconds or less.

A spokesman said: “The NHS has invested £150million in emergency services to meet the increased pressure. This includes increasing the number of 999 call agents by 20 percent compared to last September.”

The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust told Mail Online: “Due to ongoing pressure across the health and welfare system, some people are experiencing longer than expected answering times.

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“However, we have solid plans and are already seeing our call handling performance improve.”

The Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust said: “We have hired a further 69 emergency responders in response to the increased pressure and over the past month our average response time for 999 calls was six seconds.” Some Britons wait more than NINE minutes for 999 calls to be answered as warning delays are ‘life-threatening’

Sarah Y. Kim

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