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 Average response time

Category 1

An immediate response to a life threatening condition, such as cardiac or respiratory arrest 7 minutes
Category 2 A serious condition, such as stroke or chest pain, which may require rapid assessment and/or urgent transport 18 minutes
Category 3 An urgent problem, such as an uncomplicated diabetic issue, which requires treatment and transport to an acute setting At least 9 out of 10 times within 120 minutes
Category 4 A non-urgent problem, such as stable clinical cases, which requires transportation to a hospital ward or clinic At least 9 our of 10 times within 180 minutes

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

Category 1

Category 2

Category 3

Category 4

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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

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