AMBULANCE crews have been failing to get to the most life-threatening 999 calls in Worcestershire on time.

The ambulance service is supposed to attend 75 per cent of the most serious “category A” emergency calls such as heart attacks and serious car accidents within eight minutes of the call.

West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust has failed to do this across the whole region since early May but the figures for Worcestershire are even worse. In Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Staffordshire, only 69.70 per cent of crews got to the patient within eight minutes between July 27 and August 2, the most recently published figures.

The response times have been below 70 per cent for 12 of the last 13 weeks.

We have already revealed exclusively in your Worcester News how bosses from NHS Worcestershire – the organisation which holds the purse strings to the county’s healthcare – has threatened to withdraw funding from the ambulance service unless performance improves.

The organisation will pay the ambulance trust £14.98 million in 2009/10 towards its £165 million budget but NHS Worcestershire chief executive Paul Bates says he wants to see a faster response in Worcestershire.

The Government says ambulance crews should get to 75 per cent of 999 calls within eight minutes.But ambulance bosses have blamed “unprecedented” pressure and the swine flu pandemic for the dip in performance.

In July the ambulance service received 71,571 calls compared to 59,595 calls in July of the previous year – a 20 per cent increase.

The trust released a statement to your Worcester News which said there had been an increase in the number of calls from patients with breathing difficulties or have a headache or chest pains which the trust has attributed to the West Midlands having one of the highest levels of swine flu cases in the country.

Ambulance service chief executive Anthony Marsh said: “NHS West Midlands Strategic Health Authority and each of the Primary Care Trusts are all working with the ambulance service to resolve the current pressures.

“The trust is currently participating in an independent review with primary care trusts which is exploring the funding received and the levels of emergency ambulances across the region.”