SOUTH Western Ambulance Service (SWAS) has failed to meet response times for the most serious 999 calls across Wiltshire for the past nine consecutive months.

From last April to December, SWAS fell short of the expected 75 per cent eight-minute response time for Red 1 calls, which are serious cases such as when patients are not breathing by seven per cent.

Health regulator Monitor, which regularly observes ambulance services across the country, said it was working with SWAS to improve the response times.

A spokesman for Monitor said: “We are monitoring their performance on a very regular basis. The dialogue between us and foundation trusts is always ongoing.

“It is an important target for how the trust performs so we want them to improve quickly.

“For Red 1 calls this trust has failed several times. This doesn’t mean we won’t open a case out. This doesn’t mean we are launching an investigation, it means we are much more on the trust’s case.

The service nearly met response rates for Red 1 calls across Wiltshire, excluding Swindon, in January, as it attended within eight minutes 74.12 per cent of the time.

In 2011, SWAS acquired neighbouring Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust (GWAS) and through combined services it has responsibility for the provision of ambulance services across a 10,000 sq m area which includes Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

Melanie Glanville, of South Western Ambulance Service, said: “The trust acknowledges the importance of a timely response in an emergency situation and is constantly striving to improve response performance.

“We would like to reassure our communities that where we have not reached the eight-minute response standard, we are arriving on the scene in 10 minutes 75 per cent of the time, and trust-wide we are exceeding the required 75 per cent standard.

“We have a number of initiatives in place that will improve our response performance as well as delivering even better care.

“These include community responder schemes and the installation of public access defibrillators. This is a serious matter for the trust board and one to which it is dedicating much time.”