National ambulance standards

SCAS, and all other English ambulance trusts, are measured on the time it takes from receiving a 999 call to a vehicle arriving at the patient’s location.

SCAS rapid response vehicle

In the most serious of situations where those vital seconds count, ambulance resources will still be sent immediately, and we will also continue to immediately dispatch available community first responders and co-responders where appropriate too. Doing so will ensure that patients continue to get medically trained personnel and skilled clinicians by their side to start life-saving treatment as soon as possible.

Under the previous standards, life-threatening and emergency calls needed to be responded to within eight minutes. We know that most patients do not need this level of response, so under the new standards there are four response categories.


Category 1

Life-threatening calls. Responded to in an average of seven minutes and at least nine out of ten times within 15 minutes.


Category 2

Emergency calls. Responded to in an average of 18 minutes and at least nine out of ten times within 40 minutes.


Category 3

Urgent calls. Responded to at least nine out of ten times within 120 minutes. You may be treated by ambulance staff at the scene..


Category 4

Less urgent calls. Responded to at least nine out of ten times within 180 minutes. You may be given advice over the phone or referred to another service, such as a GP or pharmacist.

How do the changes benefit patients?
Under the new system, we will be able to recognise life-threatening conditions, particularly cardiac arrest, even earlier. A new set or pre-triage questions identifies those patients in need of the fastest response.

The new targets will help to free up more vehicles and staff to respond to emergencies and make sure that the right vehicle is sent in the right time to assist our patients.

Keeping you safe
As part of a review into urgent and emergency care, NHS England has rigorously tested the new ambulance standards to ensure they are safe.

During research by academics at The University of Sheffield, more than 14 million ambulance calls were monitored and there were no patient safety incidents found.

For more information about the new ambulance respond standards, visit the NHS England website.

NHS England Ambulance Quality Indicators
A dashboard, which has comparative data for all English ambulance services has been developed. This contains a narrative section which provides a brief overview of each of the indicators and further explanation around our performance. For a similar narrative on any other ambulance service you will need to view the dashboard on their website at