Increase in 999 ambulance emergency calls

Ambulance, Liverpool Image copyright AFP

A record nine million emergency calls were made to the ambulance service in England last year, figures show.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre performance report for 2014-15 showed calls had risen by 6% in a year.

The figure is up from 5.6 million 10 years ago and 2.6 million 20 years ago.

Just five out of 11 ambulance services met their target to respond to 75% of the most serious calls in eight minutes.

Overall, just 72% of these life-threatening calls were seen in that timeframe - down from just over 75% the year before.

Just over a third of the 999 calls ended up with an ambulance being dispatched.

The results come after A&E units endured their busiest winter for a decade, with waiting times dropping to their worst level since the four-hour target was introduced a decade ago.

Professor Keith Willett, from NHS England, pointed out the growth in workload was even outstripping that on A&E.

He said attempts were being made to relieve the pressure with pilots already underway allowing crews more time to decide whether to dispatch an ambulance to the less serious calls;. He said there had been some "encouraging" initial results.

More on this story