Cotswolds named worst place in Gloucestershire for ambulance waiting times

People in the Cotswolds had to wait the longest for an ambulance, when compared to the rest of Gloucestershire. Credit: ITV

The Cotswolds is the worst part of Gloucestershire to live in if you urgently need an ambulance, according to the latest figures.

All ambulance trusts must respond to category one calls within seven minutes on average, and respond to 90 per cent of these calls within 15 minutes.

Category one calls are those which need an immediate response to a life-threatening condition such as a cardiac or respiratory arrest.

A freedom of information request to South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has revealed that last year the average response time to these incidents in Gloucestershire was seven minutes and 34 seconds.

This was 31 seconds slower than the previous year which is in line with the national picture where average response times have also worsened.

Last year, on average, it took seven minutes and 25 seconds for ambulances nationally to respond due to an increase in the number of category one incidents.

In Gloucestershire, the response times vary by several minutes depending on which district patients live in.

Residents in Gloucester waited on average five minutes and 32 seconds for an ambulance while people in the Cotswolds had to wait almost 11 minutes in 2020.

Ambulance waiting times worsened because of 'unprecedented demand', according to South Western Ambulance Service.


Cheltenham is the second best place for response times in Gloucestershire with the average time taken last year at six minutes and 15 seconds.

People in Tewkesbury had to wait seven minutes and 49 seconds on average last year.

Ambulance response times in Stroud and the Forest of Dean were nine minutes and two seconds and nine minutes and 42 seconds respectively.

However, the picture changes slightly across the county for category two incidents.

These are incidents which involve serious conditions such as a stroke or chest pain which may need rapid assessment and urgent transport.

Ambulance trusts should respond to these calls within 18 minutes on average, and respond to 90 per cent of them in 40 minutes.

The county average for category two response times for 2020 was 22 minutes and 10 seconds.

Ambulances responded to such incidents in Gloucester on average in 17 minutes and 39 seconds.

This was the quickest response time followed by Cheltenham on 18 minutes and 55 seconds and Tewkesbury on 21 minutes and 32 seconds.

Responses to these incidents were better on average in the Forest of Dean than Stroud which were 25 minutes and four seconds and 25 minutes and 27 seconds respectively.

Cotswold patients were again the longest to wait.

An ambulance responding to a category two incident in the Cotswolds last year would take on average 28 minutes and 56 seconds to get to the patient.

A South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said they work incredibly hard to reach all patients as quickly as possible while prioritising those who are most seriously injured and ill.

“Along with many other UK ambulance services, we have experienced unprecedented, high level demand in recent months,” they said.

“This has resulted in us regularly dealing with more than 3,000 emergency incidents per day, which is equivalent to more than two new incidents every minute.

“These include patients who are struggling to breathe, those who have been involved in accidents on the roads and elsewhere, and others who have fallen.

“Being the most rural ambulance service in England, we recognise the significant challenge of reaching our patients within the target national response times.

“This is even with the invaluable assistance of our volunteer community first responders who provide vital treatment for patients prior to the arrival of ambulance crews.

“We are committed to improving our performance for all patients, although it is harder to reach some patients as quickly as we would like due to their location and our nearest available resources.

“We continue to make every effort to provide the best-possible quality of care to all patients wherever they are.

“Please only call 999 for an ambulance in a genuine, life-threatening emergency, and contact NHS 111 for other medical concerns and advice.” Credit: Carmelo Garcia, The Local Democracy Reporting Service