It's trite to say, but it's fundamental - ambulance response times make a big difference. There are target times for different categories of calls. For example, for Category 2 calls the target time is 18 minutes. This would include strokes and heart attacks. Unfortunately, NHS data has shown in October this year the average response time for Category 2 calls was over 50 minutes. That's the average - from what I have heard from friends, colleagues and clients who have personal experience of this, the wait can be considerably longer.
By way of example, last month one of my friends called 999 when her young son was struggling to breathe. Over an hour later they were still waiting for an ambulance, by which time thankfully his breathing was back under control, so they could cancel the ambulance. She is a medical professional herself, so knew what to do, but so many other parents would not.
Another example I have heard of is through my colleagues advising clients in the health and social care and housing sectors. A recurring experience across care homes is waiting many hours for an ambulance to attend to elderly residents who have fallen or become very unwell. The resident and the staff are deeply affected by these agonising waits. Tragically, in some cases, people do not survive the wait.
I don't pretend to have the solution but I know from experience the result of such delays can be devastating for individuals. It can also be costly; eating further into over-stretched NHS and care sector budgets. Helping patients who have been harmed by such delays is part of our work to improve the lives of individuals, communities and society.
Lives are at risk because patients are facing unacceptably long waits for a 999 response, the College of Paramedics has told the BBC.