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Ambulances must halve the time it takes to reach heart attack patients, demands Jeremy Hunt after NHS cash boost

AMBULANCES must halve the time it takes to reach heart attack and stroke patients, the Chancellor said as he laid out an NHS cash boost.

Jeremy Hunt pledged a £3.3billion-per-year health budget increase for the next two years in yesterday’s autumn statement.

The official NHS target is 18 minutes to reach a patient but October saw the worst average on record at just over an hour for category 2 calls

He said bosses must use the bump to get 999 wait times down.

Paramedics must get to urgent category 2 calls in an average of 30 minutes in 2023-24, the statement said.

The official NHS target is 18 minutes but October’s average was the worst on record, with a typical category 2 patient waiting one hour, one minute and 19 seconds for an ambulance.

England’s average has not been below 30 minutes since May 2021, NHS figures show.

Mr Hunt said: “As a former Health Secretary, I know how hard people are working on the frontline and how much they are struggling after the pandemic.

“The biggest issues are workforce shortages and pressures in the social care sector.”

But he demanded “Scandinavian quality alongside Singaporean efficiency, both better outcomes for citizens and better value for taxpayers”.

The autumn statement said NHS chiefs will lay out plans in the new year to get the health service back on track.

They will set targets for “year-on-year” improvements to A&E delays and make sure no patients wait longer than two weeks for a GP appointment.

NHS finance chiefs warned in the summer that England faced such a shortage of cash that it might have to cut back cancer and mental health services.

But Amanda Pritchard, CEO of NHS England, welcomed Thursday’s budget boost.

She said: “While I am under no illusions that NHS staff face very testing times ahead, particularly over winter, this settlement should provide sufficient funding for the NHS to fulfil its key priorities.

“As ever, we will act with determination to ensure every penny of investment delivers for patients.”

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