ONLY 15 per cent of ambulances responding to level two emergencies, such as strokes and major burns, arrived within 18 minutes, figures reveal.

The results of a Freedom of Information request showed the average response time for level two emergencies in the Harwich peninsular was more than double the expected arrival time.

Level two responses are those graded for emergencies such as strokes, fits and major burns.

An ambulance should be with the patient within 18 minutes of the 999 call being made according to the NHS.

However, the FOI request disclosed the average response time in the Harwich peninsular between November 2019 and January 2020 was more than 40 minutes.

The request was made by Harwich town councillor Pam Morrison who is now seeking assurances that action is being taken to ensure ambulances will be able to respond to level two emergencies far quicker this winter.

Mrs Morrison said she tabled her FOI request after an item on national news reported winter response times in some areas had been poor.

“I was shocked when I received the figures,” she added.

“The time is now right to seek assurances that the necessary action is being taken to ensure that the Harwich peninsula is better served on such a critical emergency issue during the coming winter.”

During the three months covered by the FOI request there were 582 level two ambulance requests to the Harwich peninsula with only 88 arriving within the 18 minute prescribed response time.

The average response time was 40 minutes and 55 seconds - more than double what it should have been.

Mrs Morrison added: “I have the utmost respect for the commitment and professionalism of those working for the ambulance service and this is in no way an attack on them.

“The problem is that our emergency services are under resourced. This cannot continue.”

Mrs Morrison will be raising the matter at Harwich Town Council’s meeting on September 1, and Tendring Council’s meeting on September 15.

At both meetings she will be asking fellow councillors to put their weight behind a call for better service.

“This really could be a matter of life and death and it cannot be left to chance,” Mrs Morrison added.

“We need to know that those responsible have taken note of last winter’s figures and have taken the necessary action to ensure a much better service for the Harwich peninsula for the coming winter.”

Gary Morgan, deputy chief operating officer for the East of England Ambulance Service, said: “We recognise some parts of our patch – and especially more remote areas such as Harwich – may be more difficult to reach than others. However we are committed to improving our response timess using a range of initiatives, including reviewing the times that ambulances are working and the number of ambulances we provide at busier times.”

"We have also increased our overall staffing numbers, which means that more ambulances and rapid response vehicles are now on the roads, and are working with NHS partners to ensure we can handover patients at hospital to maintain our operational capacity. We have also undertaken a number of wider initiatives and continue to develop our community response teams where our volunteers provide further valuable support, particularly in rural areas.

“As a result and thanks to the hard work and dedication of our staff, we have seen improvements in our performance against the national standards since this FOI and have reduced long waits.”