It is essential that clinical and political leaders ramp up the pressure and hold the Health Secretary and government to account on this issueDr Mark Holland, Society for Acute Medicine president Ambulances are failing to reach dying and seriously-ill patients fast enough as the service creaks under the strain of high demand, according to a report.Only one of the UK’s 13 ambulance services, the Welsh Ambulance Service, is meeting the target to reach patients with life-threatening conditions within eight minutes, an investigation has found.Freedom of Information requests by the BBC found more than 500,000 hours of ambulance crews’ time in England, Wales and Northern Ireland was wasted waiting at A&E to hand over patients to hospital staff. NHS England’s ambulance lead, Professor Jonathan Benger, said the rising number of calls the service received was a major factor in the delays.He told the BBC: “In the face of rising demand it is not surprising we are having difficulty meeting these targets. It is time to look at the system.”An NHS England spokesman said NHS Improvement is working to reduce delays in A&Es receiving patients in England where some hospitals are ensuring extra nursing staff are available at peak times.”These delays have many contributory causes and often reflect pressure on beds within the hospital as a whole and a system that is struggling to discharge patients to community settings,” he said.”We recognise that handover should occur as soon as it is safe to do so, with ambulances released to return to frontline duties in a timely way.”All staff are working hard to keep handover delays to a minimum with a view to eliminating them altogether.” Dr Mark Holland, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said the “significant strain” on the NHS was due to the Government’s failure to accept the social care crisis.He said: “The Government has continuously failed to acknowledge the scale of the crisis in social care and the record numbers of delayed discharges in our hospitals as a result – a significant factor in the build-up of pressure on our hospitals.”Having the support and infrastructure in place to discharging medically-fit patients safely is central to releasing pressure on emergency departments, acute medical units and ambulance services.”It is essential that clinical and political leaders ramp up the pressure and hold the Health Secretary and government to account on this issue before it is too late.” A Department of Health spokesman said: “Ambulance services in England are performing well under pressure, responding to the significant majority of the most serious calls within eight minutes.”He added: “NHS England is working closely with ambulance services to improve response times and we’re helping recruit 2,200 more paramedics since 2010, as well as increasing the number of training places this year by 60 per cent.” The Department of Health said NHS England is working closely with ambulance services to improve response time. File pictureCredit:Dinendra Haria/REX/Shutterstock Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.