AMBULANCE services in Waltham Forest are responding to emergencies faster than ever before, new figures show.

Crews in Waltham Forest met the Government's national target, reaching 75 per cent of patients in an immediately life-threatening (Category A) condition within eight minutes.

This means a total of 2,173 more patients were reached within the time limit than last year, despite a rise in demand of about four per cent.

In 2008/09 the service responded to more than 29,000 incidents in the borough, of which nearly 10,000 were Category A calls.

Waltham Forest ambulance operations manager Martin McTigue said: “Our staff have done a terrific job this year and we have reached more patients, more quickly than ever before despite demand upon our Service going up.

“We have performed exceptionally well in what has been a very difficult year with the heavy snow just one of the challenges we faced.”

The service across London reached an extra 47,000 of the most seriously ill and injured patients within eight minutes compared to the previous year.

This was achieved despite a new way of measuring response times, coupled with a total of more than 1.4 million emergency calls made in 2008/09.

From April 2008, the ‘clock’ used to measure the speed of response changed to start once the caller was connected to the control room rather than once all their details had been taken.

Mr McTigue added: “The change means that our recorded response times now start approximately two minutes earlier than they did, while our actual target of eight minutes remains unchanged – so patients are getting a better service from us.

“Along with increased speed, staff have worked incredibly hard to provide high quality care to patients and we are looking to build on our success with the recruitment of 400 extra frontline staff across London this year so we can provide an even better service.

“However, we would continue to ask residents in Waltham Forest to use their ambulance service wisely by only calling 999 in the event of an emergency.”