If you’ve ever needed an ambulance, you’ll know the waiting time can feel like hours above what it actually is as you wait in desperation for some help.

Even if you’ve not needed medical attention in a hurry, you might wonder what the different ambulance response categories are in the UK.

Each category has a different response time, depending on the severity of the patient’s condition – let’s take a look.

What are the different ambulance response categories and times?

In 2017, response categories were updated by NHS England and now there are four that are used to prioritise which patients need help quicker than others.

Oxford Mail: There are four ambulance response categoriesThere are four ambulance response categories (Image: Toby Melville/PA Wire)

Category one calls are for people with life-threatening injuries and illnesses, including cardiac arrest, according to the London Ambulance Service’s website.

You can also find out more information via the NHS England easy-read document here.

When responding to a category one call, an ambulance crew will need to respond within an average of seven minutes.

Ambulance response categories explained

Category two is emergency calls for patients, including those who are having a stroke. The response time for this category is an average of 18 minutes.

Category three calls are urgent and a patient suffering from abdominal pain would fit in this category.

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This category of response refers to patients who can be treated at home and responses from ambulance crews should be within 20 minutes at least nine out of 10 times.

Less urgent calls for patients with diarrhoea, vomiting and back pain, for example, would come under category four.

These patients could be given advice over the phone or referred to a GP or pharmacist. At least nine out of 10 times, these calls will be responded to within 180 minutes.