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Response time targets

Call prioritisation

When a 999 call is received it is prioritised depending on the information provided by the caller.

The categories are:

  • Red 1 (immediately life-threatening)call taker

  • Red 2 (serious but not the most life threatening)

Red 1 - this category is assigned to patients who are in life-threatening conditions where the speed of response may be critical in saving life or improving the outcome for the patient.  This category includes patients who may be experiencing cardiac arrest, trauma or serious bleeding, the majority of whom are not conscious and breathing.  Seventy-five percent of all Red 1 patients should be reached in eight minutes and 95 percent of all Red 1 patients should have a transporting resource within 19 minutes.

Red 2 – this category is assigned to patients whose conditions are deemed to be very serious but not as critical as Red 1 patients.  This includes patients like Darrel, who are experiencing chest pains but who is conscious and breathing at the time of the call.    We aim to respond to Red 2 patients within the same timeframe as for Red 1 patients, ie eight minutes, however calls to Red 1 patients will take priority over those to Red 2 patients.  We currently respond to approximately 853 Red 2 patients a day.

All NHS Ambulance services must respond to 75% of Red calls within 8 minutes and 95% within 19 minutes of an ambulance being requested by the clinician on scene. For other less seriously ill patients, timeliness is measured in in a more clinically relevant manner, for example the time for a qualified healthcare professional to arrive at the scene - we call these green calls.

We also report on our performance against the national set of 11 Ambulance Indicators:

  • Outcome from acute ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI)
  • Outcome from cardiac arrest – return of spontaneous circulation
  • Outcome from cardiac arrest – survival to discharge
  • Outcome following stroke for ambulance patients
  • Proportion of calls closed with telephone advice or managed without transport to A and E (where clinically appropriate)
  • Re-contact rate following discharge of care (i.e. closure with telephone advice or following treatment at the scene)
  • Call abandonment rate
  • Time to answer calls
  • Service Experience
  • Category ‘A’ 8 minute response time
  • Time to treatment by an ambulance-dispatched health professional

You can find out more about call categorisation in the Calling 999 section.

Response times (how quickly a response reaches the patient, measured from the time the 999 call is connected to the Emegency Dispatch Centre) are set nationally and apply to all ambulance services in England and Wales:

Indicator National target
Red 1 -  life-threatening conditions where speed of response may be critical in saving life or improving the outcome for the patient , for example - cardiac arrest, trauma, serious bleeding

75 percent of all Red 1 patients must be reached in 8 minutes 

95 percent of all Red1 patients must be reached within 19 minutes

Red 2 - serious but not the most life threatening 

we have to reach 75% of Red 1 (life threatening) and Red 2 (serious but not the most life threatening) calls within 8 minutes and to reach 95% of these calls within 19 minutes.

75 percent of all Red 2 patients must be reached in 8 minutes

95 percent of all Red 2 patients must be reached in 19 minutes

Green - conditions where the patient has been assessed as not have immediately life threatening condition but does require an assessment by an ambulance clinician or transport to hospital. Agreed locally -  the patient should receive an a emergency response in 30 or 60 minutes depending on the clinical need.
Hear & Treat – conditions assessed as not requiring an ambulance service response, but could more appropriately be assessed or treated by an alternative healthcare provider . This may include advice from our own paramedic or nurses in the control room, referral to a GP or out of hours doctor, or make own way to a suitable  health care facility. Agreed locally - where an ambulance service clinician provides advice, a call back should be made within two hours of the orginal 999 call depending on clinical requirement.


Our performance

Our 999 response performance during 2015/16 was

  • Red 1 - 71.6%
  • Red 2 - 67.3%
  • Red 19-minute - 93.8%

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