Ambulance Response Programme

In 2017, following the largest clinical ambulance trials in the world, NHS England implemented new ambulance standards across the country.

This was to ensure that the sickest patients get the fastest response and that all patients get the right response first time.

The new system updated a decades old system and provides the ambulance service with a strong foundation for the future.

A new set of pre-triage questions identifies those patients in need of the fastest response.

Our easy read document helps explain the changes in accessible language. There are now four categories of call and the following animations explain a little about each.

Category 1 – Calls from people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries

This short animation explains more about these calls:

Category 2 – Emergency calls

Hear more about these types of calls:

Category 3 – Urgent calls

Watch this short animation on what an urgent call is:

Category 4 – Less urgent calls

Learn more about what this means:

Healthcare Professional Ambulance Responses and Inter-facility Transfers

Following the implementation of the Ambulance Response Programme response model and a successful pilot project, NHS England has published two national frameworks.

The first is for Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) requesting ambulances and the second is to support Inter-Facility Transfers (IFTs), that is patients who require transfer by ambulance between NHS facilities.

These national frameworks set out four levels of response for both healthcare professional ambulance responses and inter-facility transfers. This aims to ensure:

  • Fair access for all seriously ill or injured patients;
  • Recognition that in certain situations, a HCP may require immediate clinical assistance to make a life-saving intervention, in addition to ambulance transportation;
  • Consistent definitions for high acuity (more seriously ill patients) HCP responses are established and are mapped to ARP response priorities Category 1 and Category 2;
  • Opportunity for local innovation and acknowledgement of different contractual and commissioning arrangements for lower acuity (less serious) incidents; and
  • Activity and response to HCP incidents can be measured separately to other 999 activity in order to examine parity of response.

Further reading about the programme