Panorama: Dial 999... And Wait?

8:30pm Monday 3 September on BBC ONE

As the emergency services face pressure from both budget cuts and increasing demand, Dial 999… And Wait? investigates claims that lives are being put at risk.

In 2010, the government scrapped targets for police response times to 999 calls. A Panorama survey reveals the areas where it now takes police more than 15 minutes to respond to 1 in 5 emergency calls and the constabulary where officers are taking more than an hour to arrive on the scene at almost half of their priority calls – the stage below an emergency but still requiring an emergency response.

As fire services face a new round of cuts, Panorama analyses a government report which says that response times have increased by 22 per cent.

In recent years, most ambulance trusts have failed to meet their target of reaching 75 per cent of their most urgent calls within eight minutes. As they make a concerted push to tackle this, Panorama speaks to whistle-blowers who claim that some trusts are re-classifying emergency calls as non-urgent ?to meet response targets. The programme also investigates the area where nearly half of stroke victims can take an hour or more to get to hospital.

The government says that savings can be made without hurting frontline services and point to decreasing crime rates and fewer fire deaths. Reporter Declan Lawn asks whether these figures could start to turn.

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