Ambulance response times in Yorkshire

The GMB union have issued a press release in which they asked the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) to provide more staff and vehicles to enable them to hit the 8 minute target for attendance at category A calls (which are “immediately life threatening”). The target is that 75% of these calls are responded to in 8 minutes, the YAS has a figure of 69.44%.

I can’t comment on the reasons why YAS is below target. But I do know that simply adding resource is probably not the most effective way of improving. I would recommend that they study demand, get rid of the targets and implement measures related to the purpose of the service.

Just to make one interesting observation. At the bottom of the press release they quote all the other ambulance services’ level of performance in relation to the 8 minute category A target:

NHS Ambulance Trusts- Category A calls meeting 8 minute standard

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust 78.01%

East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust 76.03%

North East Ambulance Service NHS Trust 75.69%

London Ambulance Service NHS Trust 75.55%

West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust 75.40%

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust 75.15%

East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust 74.60%

North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust 74.31%

South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust 72.63%

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust 69.44%

Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust 68.37%

Is it me or do these numbers look odd? Apart from the ones at the bottom, all the others just squeak above the target of 75%. I would expect in a normal set of data that the different services would vary a lot more. I speculate that the ambulance services around the country are not responding to the demands placed upon them but responding more to the target set. I would wager that if the target were dropped to 70% all the services would move to just above that figure too.

Design a system against purpose and demand and these oddities and performance levels become irrelevant.



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  1. Mark Graban -

    Who in the world decides 75% is the right target? That shows the folly of targets, as you rightfully state.

    I would also suspect gaming of the system to just barely hit that 75% target. One of the dysfunctions of a target/quota culture is that it's binary – once better than the target, why exert yourself to do better?

    That's sad. I agree with you that real systems improvement is key. It requires a continuous improvement mindset, not mindless silly targets.