How long does it take for an ambulance to arrive?

Many people believe that an ambulance will arrive within seconds of calling 999, no matter what the situation may be. Although we wish that could be true, in reality we need to make sure that all our patients receive the most appropriate care, and that we are able to give our sickest patients the fastest response.

To make this possible, we prioritise all 999 calls into one of four categories depending on the nature of your injury or illness. This determines the type of care you will get and how quickly we aim to get to you.

  • Category one is for calls about people with life-threatening injuries and illnesses. These will be responded to in an average time of 7 minutes and at least 9 out of 10 times within 15 minutes.
  • Category two is for emergency calls. These will be responded to in an average time of 18 minutes and at least 9 out of 10 times within 40 minutes.
  • Category three is for urgent calls. In some instances you may be treated by ambulance staff in your own home. These types of calls will be responded to at least 9 out of 10 times within 120 minutes.
  • Category four is for less urgent calls. In some instances you may be given advice over the telephone or referred to another service such as a GP or pharmacist. These less urgent calls will be responded to at least 9 out of 10 times within 180 minutes.

For more information take a look at our press release.