Ambulance waiting times for emergencies down to the lowest in 19 months in January

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Ambulance crews reached emergency cases more than an hour quicker in January compared to the previous month, but waiting times still don’t reach the national target.

Ambulance waiting times were down by around an hour in January compared to the month before, according to NHS figures. Ambulance crews arrived at emergencies including strokes and heart attacks in 32 minutes on average.

The average waiting time for emergencies in December was more than 90 minutes, which means the average waiting time fell  by more than an hour. The target for ambulance services is 18 minutes, which is still lower than the January average, but the figures show a major improvement and the quickest arrival times in 19 months.

The figures also show  A&E waiting times were down in January, with just over a quarter of patients having to wait longer than four hours, compared to more than a third the previous month. But while the waiting times have decreased, some still see the figures as “intolerable”.

Society for Acute Medicine president, Dr Tim Cooksley, said the sickest still faced long waits for a bed. He said nearly four out of 10 waited for more than four hours on trolleys and in corridors.

Dr Cooksley said: "The fundamental problem remains a significant shortage of workforce, leading to woefully inadequate inpatient bed and social-care capacity.”

Ambulance wait times were down by more than an hour in January compared to December 2022.Ambulance wait times were down by more than an hour in January compared to December 2022.
Ambulance wait times were down by more than an hour in January compared to December 2022.

While the waiting times have improved since the end of 2022, strike action is reported to have affected an estimated 100,000 patients. The ambulance staff and NHS nurses strikes this week have resulted in around 40,000 rescheduled appointments and surgeries.

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