PATIENTS in Essex whose lives were under threat faced waiting an average of 40 to 45 minutes for an ambulance last year, even if they had suffered a heart attack or stroke. 

Damning NHS figures obtained from FOI requests show all but one of England’s ambulance trusts regularly missed their 18-minute response time target in 2023 for category 2 calls. 

Category 2 includes emergencies relating to heart attacks and strokes. 

According to the findings, East Suffolk and the North East Essex Trust patients in Colchester and beyond with a Category 2 condition waited 45 minutes and 53 seconds for an ambulance – a 56.67 per cent increase from 2019.

Those with life-threatening or serious conditions, meanwhile, had to wait nine minutes and 39 seconds for an ambulance on average - a 11.78 per cent increase from 2019.

According to the findings, obtained by the Liberal Democrats, the longest wait time a patients endured for Category 1 and Category 2 calls were one hour, 35 minutes and nine seconds and 20 hours, 38 minutes and 45 seconds, respectively.

Dunmow Broadcast: Response - The East of England Ambulance trust said they were working on numerous initiatives to decrease waiting timesResponse - The East of England Ambulance trust said they were working on numerous initiatives to decrease waiting times (Image: Submitted)

For patients under the jurisdiction of the the Mid and South East Essex Trust, which covers Braintree and Southend, the average wait time was eight minutes and 25 seconds for Category 1 calls and 41 minutes and 45 seconds for Category 2 calls in 2023 – a 6.77 and 30.6 per cent increase from 2019.

The longest wait times at the Mid and South East Essex Trust, meanwhile, were two hours, 20 minutes and 30 seconds for Category 1 and 16 hours, 49 minutes and 16 seconds.

Bosses at the East of England Ambulance Service have now moved to reassure residents, saying the latest data only refers back to 2023, and since then changes have been made.

A spokesman added: “We have worked with our partners to reduce response times, and these have improved significantly since the end of last year.

“We are working on numerous ways in which we can further improve our response times and increase our resources.”

The East of England Ambulance Service's frontline clinicians have increased by 300, delivering a ten per cent increase in ambulance hours.

29 MAN and Ford vehicles are also due to join its fleet by May, with a further 63 due over the following six months, as well as 40 more Renaults this financial year.