Emergency calls rise in East Anglia

Sarah HallThe region's ambulance service has received more emergency calls than ever before, new figures show.Sarah Hall

The region's ambulance service has received more emergency calls than ever before, new figures show.

Over the past year there has been a increase of almost 10pc in the most urgent calls to the East of England Ambulance Service but bosses say they are reaching more people 'faster than before'.

Latest NHS Information Centre figures show in 2009/2010 there were a total of 668,451 calls, up from 641,589 in 2008/2009. Of these 207,626 were category A calls - which are immediately life threatening - which rose from 190,242 the previous year.

An ambulance spokeswoman said the figures showed the service was offering 'better care' more directly to patients.

She said: 'The East of England region achieved category A performance for both the eight and 19 minute targets, despite an increase of 9.14pc in the number of calls. In 2009/10 calls to our three call centres have risen by 4.19pc over the previous year.

'Targets have played a key role in improving standards in the ambulance service but we know that the next stage is to measure performance against patient outcomes. Working with the NHS more widely we must also concentrate on prevention so problems can be seen to earlier before an emergency response is required.'

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Category B and C calls also shot up in the past year. Category B - which are serious but not life-threatening calls - rose from 262,877 to 263,095 and category C - which are not serious or life threatening and usually result in telephone advice - went up from 188,670 to 197,730 in the past year.

The spokeswoman said: 'The calls which cause us more concern are those which come through the 999 system but are not life threatening or serious, of which a large percentage relate to minor illness and injury which could be self treated or dealt with by another part of the NHS.

'If anyone is in doubt about whether they need an emergency response they should contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or ask their local pharmacist or GP surgery for advice or visit the GP led health centre in Castle Mall, Norwich, where no appointment is needed to see a GP or specialist nurse.'

The ambulance service in England took 7.87m emergency and urgent calls in 2009/10 altogether - 391,000 more than in the previous year. It also completed 4.70m urgent and emergency patient journeys in 2009/10; just over 191,000 more than in the previous year.

For category A incidents, the service has a target of an emergency response arriving at the scene within eight minutes in 75pc of cases and a fully equipped ambulance, if required, to attend within 19 minutes within 95pc of cases.

The full report is at