PEOPLE suffering a stroke are being made to wait for more than one hour for an ambulance to arrive, shocking figures reveal.

The ambulance service is nearing breaking point as some patients are left waiting almost three hours more than in 2020, figures reveal.

The East of England Ambulance Service, which responds to incidents in counties including Essex, experienced its busiest year on record for the volume of 999 calls it received last year.

Damning numbers show patients are having to wait three more minutes for an ambulance to arrive while they are in a life threatening condition, such as cardiac or respiratory arrest, compared to 2020.

Those deemed category two patients suffering from a stroke or chest pain are having to sit tight for one hour and 17 minutes on average, when two years ago this was a 26 minute hold.

It represents an increase of 34 minutes on last year’s average.

Maldon and Burnham Standard: Waiting times - an ambulanceWaiting times - an ambulance

And in category three incidents, defined as an “urgent problem”, waits have increased by almost three hours since 2020 - to four hours and ten minutes.

A spokeswoman for the East of England Ambulance Service said it continues to be under “significant pressure” and is working to reduce delays.

“Our trust has experienced sustained high levels of demand for services, with 2021 marking the busiest year on record in the NHS for the number of 999 calls.

"In exceptionally busy periods we must prioritise urgent emergency cases and, where clinically appropriate, a team of clinicians in our Emergency Clinical Advice and Triage service will advise people who do not need an ambulance to use other services.

“We are currently working with partner organisations to reduce waiting times, but the public can help us too by using NHS 111 for healthcare advice in non-urgent cases.”

The service revealed to the Gazette it has recently successfully recruited more call handlers and expanded the network of hospital liaison officers to co-ordinate handovers at hospitals.

The spokeswoman added: “We are working with acute hospitals to develop cohorting areas, where patients can be assessed before going into the emergency department, so we can get ambulances back on the road more quickly.”