NEW figures reveal that the county's ambulance service is one of only two trusts in England which is meeting its national performance targets this year.

The South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) hit all of the benchmarks required of it between April and October, according to statistics compiled by NHS England.

All ambulance trusts are measured against the Ambulance Response Programme targets for meeting all categories of emergency 999 calls received.

When the service receives a life-threatening call, ambulances need to respond to callouts in under seven minutes.

For the 17,621 calls received, on average SCAS staff got to the scene in six minutes and 58 seconds.

In the emergency calls category, incidents need to be attended within 18 minutes.

The SCAS managed to arrive at 146,378 emergencies within 15 minutes and 38 seconds on average.

Mark Ainsworth, director of operations at SCAS, said: "I would like to thank all of our staff – from our planning and scheduling teams who ensure we have the right levels of emergency cover, our make ready and maintenance teams who look after our vehicles, to those in our control rooms who answer the 999 calls and arrange the right help for our patients, to those working 24-7 across the South Central region on our frontline ambulances and rapid response vehicles, as well as our volunteers and co-responders.

"This is excellent performance at a time of increasing demand on our emergency service and it is only possible thanks to the hard work, dedication and commitment of those people."

He added: "Whilst the peak winter and festive period will no doubt again be challenging right across the NHS, I hope it is reassuring for the people who live and work in our region that our emergency 999 performance is not only better than this time last year, but is one of the very best in the country."

SCAS is supporting the NHS England winter campaign – Help Us Help You - by urging local people to only call 999 or visit A&E over the coming months for life-threatening or serious illnesses and injuries.

For less serious illness and injuries, people are being encouraged to call 111 or seek help from local minor injuries units, walk-in centres or pharmacies.