MORE than a third of ambulances in the West Midlands are failing to arrive at emergency calls within the eight-minute target time.

A report presented to the governing body of South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on Thursday, January 23 showed only 65.75 per cent of West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) crews called to the most serious ‘Red One’ incidents – including heart attacks and serious car crashes – in the region had arrived within the target time since April.

Those called to less serious but still urgent cases such as suspected strokes or breathing difficulties met the target slightly more often, only missing it 26.28 per cent of the time.

Speaking at last week’s meeting joint clinical lead for Malvern Hills and Pershore Dr George Henry said the service aimed to arrive at a minimum of 75 per cent of emergency incidents within eight minutes, but had been consistently failing to achieve that.

“If someone stops breathing they need to be there as soon as they can, so whatever we set the target to is going to be somewhat arbitrary,” he said.

“They told us if we set the target at ten minutes they would be performing very well, but if you’re a patient you don’t want to wait ten minutes, or even one minute.”

The board’s joint clinical lead for Worcester Dr Felix Blaine said he did not agree with lengthening the target time.

“When you are with someone who is genuinely ill eight minutes feels like a very long time,” he said.

A spokesman from WMAS said the service is called to an average of one Red One incident every day in South Worcestershire.

“In very rural areas like South Worcestershire where travel distances are far greater, it will always be difficult to hit the 75 per cent target,” he said.

“We are working with CCGs to look at the resources we have and our response time targets.

“The current independent review, which updates work completed in 2009, will determine whether we have sufficient resources – which we do not believe that we do – and decide whether we can improve the way we use the resources that we do have.”

He added the service was working with communities to develop more first responder schemes and publicly-accessible defibrillators to keep people as safe as possible.

He said: “Together they mean that those who are unlucky enough to suffer a cardiac arrest in rural areas are more likely to get life-saving intervention in the first few minutes which can mean the difference between life and death.”