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Call categories

All ambulance calls in the UK are categorised into three broad types, emergency or 999 calls, urgent calls, routine calls.

Emergency or 999 Calls

The response to 999 calls and the priority they are given is determined by information provided by the caller. You can find out more about categories of calls and our response to these in our response time targets section. 


An urgent call can only be requested by a doctor (usually a GP) or a midwife. The response is tailored to each individual patient's need as determined by the doctor requesting the ambulance.

It is important to appreciate that although the patient is often termed an 'emergency admission' as far as the hospital is concerned, it is not neccessarily dealt with as a 999 call by the ambulance service. In other words a doctor may arrange an 'emergency admission' to hospital but give the ambulance service two hours or more to carry out the journey.

The standard is to get 95% of patients to the hospital within 15 minutes of the time specified by the doctor when booking the ambulance.

Routine calls

Routine calls are booked days, or even weeks, in advance. They are usually carried out by Patient Transport Services of the Trust although occasionally an emergency ambulance may be involved. These calls are generally for taking people to and from out-patient or day hospital patients when no other method of transport is possible.

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