PATIENTS in the North-East are being forced to wait up to six hours for an ambulance, figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request have revealed.

Official guidelines say paramedics should arrive within 30 minutes, but the figures show some people have had to wait 12 times that.

The information was released by the North East Ambulance Service following a request from a newspaper.

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The statistics show that on January 1 last year, a patient in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, had to wait three hours 13 minutes despite having potentially life-threatening injuries.

The ambulance service said that the call was originally non-life-threatening.

The report said the service failed to meet target response times on 10 separate occasions in a 12-month period.

But the service has said they are the highest performing in the country, reaching just under 80 per cent of the most seriously ill or injured patients within eight minutes.

A North East Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: “Despite the best efforts of our crews, we cannot reach 100 per cent of patients within that target time.

“Even with unlimited funds, this would be impossible.”