999 response times not good enough in South East

Some ambulances are not reaching sick people in their targeted response times, new figures made available to WLR reveal.

A number of ambulances are taking up to an hour and a half to reach their requested locations – even though many are supposed to be there within 20 minutes.

Unions representing emergency technicians have again called on more resources to be put into ambulance services.

The figures were obtained through a Freedom of Information request made by journalist Ken Foxe and made available to WLR.

The data covers January to June 2021 and relates to priority one and priority two calls – known respectively as “Echo Calls” (the absolute top priority ones) and “Delta Calls” (the second-highest priority).


The target for both is an ambulance to be at there within twenty minutes.

The National Ambulance Service comes under the auspices of the HSE and show nationally, there were two Echo calls over one hour for the period 1st January to 30th June 2021.  Both occurred in January.


The longest Echo call was one hour, forty-four minutes and is attributable to the distance to be travelled to an incident in County Waterford.  The data doesn’t reveal the outcome of the dispatch.

The figures for the South East show that the percentage of ambulances that reach their response times for “Echo Calls” in less than the recommended 19 minutes varies from 56% in February to 76% in May.  When it comes to “Delta Calls” the figures range from 40% in January to 48% in May.  This means that over the six month period, only one in every two ambulances dealing with “Delta Calls” reach their destination in the required response time.


The percentage response times are higher in other areas such as the North East, the Eastern division, the Midlands, the Midwest, the West and the North West.

There were 167 “Echo Calls” in the six months in the South East which reached their destination in less than 19 minutes, and 2,467 “Delta Calls” in the similar category.

The National Ambulance Service says that across the country, there were a total of 56,899 Echo and Delta calls received by the National Ambulance Service for the months of 1 st January to 30th June 2021.

They say this can be divided down into 2,671 (4.70%) Echo calls and 54,228 Delta calls (95.30%) for the period. The two Echo calls over the hour represent less than half a percentage (0.07%) of the overall number of Echo calls, while the Delta calls over the hour represent less than 1% (0.57%) of the overall number of Delta calls received for the period 1 st January to 30th June 2021.