Understanding ambulance response categories

Following the largest ambulance clinical trials in the world, NHS England implemented new ambulance standards across the country.

The new standards came into effect in the North East in October 2017.

The categories are as follows:

Category Response Response time to 90% of all incidents 

Category 1

An immediate response to a life threatening condition, such as cardiac or respiratory arrest

15 minutes

Category 2 A serious condition, such as stroke or chest pain, which may require rapid assessment and/or urgent transport

40 minutes

Category 3 An urgent problem, such as an uncomplicated diabetic issue, which requires treatment and transport to an acute setting

2 hours

Category 4 A non-urgent problem, such as stable clinical cases, which requires transportation to a hospital ward or clinic

3 hours

Find out more about what happens when you call an ambulance, and the response times, in the video below:

Response Times (BSL Version) from North East Ambulance Service NHS on Vimeo.

Videos explaining each of the categories are available to view below:

Category 1

Category 2

Category 3

Category 4

Share this page

More information about ambulance standards

NHS England has created an easy-read document to explain ambulance response standards and the reason behind the changes.

The new standards were introduced following the world's largest clinical ambulance pilot, carried out by academics at the University of Sheffield. During the 18 month trial, there were no safety issues identified in more than 14million 999 calls.

Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

Back to top

Enable Recite