- Major overhaul of the 999 service will mean 8-minute response target scrapped
- Those who suffer heart attacks are now likely to have to wait 18 minutes for help
- In some cases, delay could be 40 minutes for those needing medical attention
Victims of suspected heart attacks and strokes will have to wait ten minutes longer for an ambulance.
In a major overhaul of the 999 service, the eight-minute response target is to be scrapped. Sufferers will now typically have to wait 18 minutes for help.
In some cases the delay could be as long as 40 minutes. This is because suspected heart attacks and strokes will no longer be classified as life-threatening.
NHS bosses say the reforms will save lives and ensure patients get the right treatment.
Ambulances park outside the Accident and Emergency ward at St Thomas’ Hospital on January 6, 2015 in London, United Kingdom
The existing system is also open to abuse, with ambulance trusts using cars and motorcycles to hit response time targets even though the vehicles cannot carry patients to hospital.
The shake-up has alarmed campaigners because swift treatment is critical in both heart attack and stroke cases.
‘None of this seems very reassuring at all for patients,’ said Joyce Robins of Patient Concern. ‘It seems more like they are rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. It is hard to see the benefit for patients, when many are being told they may have to wait longer if they have had a heart attack or stroke.’
Half of 999 calls are currently classed as life-threatening – requiring a response within eight minutes.