NHS ambulance services Contents


In England, 10 regionally-based ambulance trusts provide urgent and emergency healthcare, with separate arrangements for the Isle of Wight. In 2015–16, these services cost £1.78 billion. Ambulance services received 9.4 million urgent or emergency care calls and 1.3 million transfers from NHS 111, which together resulted in 6.6 million face-to-face attendances in 2015–16.

Since July 2012, ambulance responses have been split into Red and Green calls. Red calls are calls where the patient’s condition is considered to be life-threatening. Red 1 calls are the most time-critical, and cover patients suffering cardiac arrest, who are not breathing and do not have a pulse, and other severe conditions such as airway obstruction. Red 2 calls are serious but less immediately time-critical, and cover conditions such as stroke and heart attack. For Red 1 and Red 2 calls, the ambulance service has a target requiring an emergency response arriving at the scene within 8 minutes in 75% of cases. If onward transport is required, a vehicle capable of conveying the patient should arrive at the scene within 19 minutes in 95% of cases. Green calls are calls where the patient’s condition is considered not to be life-threatening. Locally agreed targets are in place for these calls.

The ambulance service has a pivotal role to play in the performance of the entire urgent and emergency care system, as a conduit to other services and helping patients access the facilities they need close to home. For ambulances, this means applying new models of care rather than taking all patients to hospital. The new models of care include: resolving calls over the phone by providing advice to callers; treating patients at the scene; and taking patients to non-hospital destinations.

25 April 2017