THE county’s under pressure 999 ambulance crews responded to over 10,500 urgent emergency calls over the past year.

A report put to Herefordshire Council’s health and social care scrutiny committee this week shows that, in real demands, demand on those crews continues to increase year on year.

In 2011-12 West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS)  took an overall 19,528 calls from the county.

Figures for the past year show demand has jumped by some 20% since.

The report says that maintaining performance - particularly responses to the most urgent calls - while managing growth in demand are key priorities for 2014-15.

Initiatives are underway to reduce on scene times to free up response resources.

Already, the number of patients being taken to hospital has been cut.

And, despite well documented operational woes, Hereford County Hospital is far from the worst in the WMAS area on ambulance turnaround – the 30 minute target for a crew to get free of A&E.

All told, the service responded to 10,528  Red 1 & 2 calls  across Herefordshire over 2013-13 – an average 28 a day.

Red category calls are classed as immediately life threatening and come with an eight minute response time.

Just over 66% of Red 1 calls – cardiac arrest or life threatening traumatic injuries – made the eight minute target.

Nearly 76% of  Red 2 calls – all other life threatening emergencies – made the target.

Green calls, a category ranging from serious but not life threatening to telephone assessment totalled 14,921 with target response rates between 95%-99%

The report recognises large parts of the Golden Valley and the north-west of the county as “areas of concern” over Red 1 response performance.

There are also Red 1 response concerns recognised east of Ledbury and north of Leominster.

Red 2 performance is stronger with concern recognised in responding to emergencies on the county’s border extremities.

WMAS currently budgets  for 107 operational staff in Herefordshire with 97 posts currently filled.

On current demand that’s  262 calls for each.