Wait of at least an hour for an ambulance in 850 emergency calls over six-month period

More than 850 seriously ill or injured patients had to wait at least an hour for an ambulance to turn up with one high priority call not dealt with for more than three hours and fifteen minutes during the second half of last year.

Figures from the National Ambulance Service (NAS) show that Cork and Wexford were the counties worst affected by prolonged delays in providing urgent emergency services between July and December 2023.

However, the ambulance service said they had been close to meeting their targets for responding to so-called ‘Purple’ and ‘Red’ calls, where there is a life-threatening illness or injury, cardiac arrest or respiratory arrest.

Figures for the last six months of last year show that an ambulance did not arrive at a total of 732 calls for a period of between 60 and 90 minutes.

There were a further 110 emergency calls that took between 90 and 120 minutes to respond to, data released under Freedom of Information legislation revealed.

Response times for another 20 ‘Red’ calls – which are classified as life-threatening illnesses other than cardiac and respiratory arrest – ranged between two hours and three hours.

There were two ‘Red’ calls, one in Carlow and one in Wexford, where an ambulance did not arrive at the location of a call for over 180 minutes, with response time for the emergency in County Carlow logged at 3 hours 15 minutes and 5 seconds.

However, the National Ambulance Service said some of the longer-wait calls may have started out as a lower priority but were later reprioritised depending on the circumstances.

They said it was not possible to say for certain in which cases this had happened and that it could account for some of the bigger delays.