Paramedics are responding to certain emergency calls within their eight minute target in just under 75 per cent of cases.
According to figures released last week by GMB, the union for ambulance staff, South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) staff responded to ‘Red 2’ calls within eight minutes in 73.9 per cent of cases from April 2013 to March 2014.
‘Red 1’ calls are the most serious and time critical calls, while ‘Red 2’ calls are described as serious but less time critical.
SECAmb response times within eight minutes for ‘Red 2’ calls have fallen from 75.1 per cent in the same period in 2012-13 and below the service’s target of 75 per cent.
However, paramedics responded to ‘Red 1’ calls within eight minutes in 76.8 per cent of cases, up from 75.1 per cent the previous year.
‘Red 1’ and ‘Red 2’ are calls classified as immediately life threatening and require an emergency response with blue lights.
A spokesperson for SECAmb said: “Ambulance response times are of course very important but it is vital that they are not used as the only indicator of any ambulance service’s performance.
“Along with all parts of the NHS and all ambulance services nationally, SECAmb has been and continues to be extremely busy. Recent months have seen above expected increases in demand, making meeting response times targets even more challenging for our staff.
“Despite this increase in calls our average response time for the most serious calls (Red 1 and Red 2) in 2013/14 was six minutes and 41 seconds.”
Rehana Azam, GMB National Officer for NHS staff, said cuts made by the government has increased demands on the 999 service.