letters

You report (news, page 10, 28 June) that only three of the 32 ambulance services in England met government response time targets in 2000-01. In fact 14 services met the actual target set by the government, which was to respond to 75 per cent of lifethreatening calls within eight minutes by the end of March 2001. The official statistics reported the average over the 12-month period, which is a rather different figure.

No one is complacent. Since March, further progress towards 75 per cent and beyond has been made in many areas. The ambulance service is confident that the target will be achieved and sustained in most parts of the country from September.

Ministers understand the difficulty faced in meeting the response targets, particularly in the light of the rapid increase in 999 calls. The announcement of funding to ensure every emergency ambulance in England will be fitted with electronic mapping and automatic vehicle-location equipment by next March will help improve response times.

This is the priority for every ambulance service.

Richard Diment Chief executive Ambulance Service Association London SE1