A&E waits and ambulance response times in Suffolk and north Essex are some of the worst on record, according to the latest NHS data.

Average ambulance response times for the most serious, category one, incidents in the East of England in December were 11 minutes, 54 seconds, well above the England average of 10 minutes, 57 seconds and the second worst in the country behind South Western Ambulance Service.

The English average is the worst since records began in 2017 and well above the target figure of seven-minute response times to the most serious incidents.

Meanwhile, statistics have highlighted the worsening situation in A&E departments across Suffolk and north Essex.

In December, 356 patients at hospitals run by the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), including Ipswich and Colchester hospitals, waited more than 12 hours to be admitted to A&E, while a further 9,324 endured a wait of more than four hours.

By contrast, in November, 149 patients waited for 12 hours or more at ESNEFT hospitals, while 8,165 waited for four hours or more.

At West Suffolk Hospital in December, 606 patients waited for 12 hours or more to be admitted to A&E, while 1,125 waited for four hours or more.

In November, the equivalent figure was 399 patients waiting for 12 hours.

The NHS has a target to see 95% of patients admitted to A&E in less than four hours.

At ESNEFT hospitals, just 66% of patients met this target in December, although this was slightly above the national average of 65%.

Equivalent percentages for the West Suffolk Hospital were not available.

However, a spokesperson for West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust said the majority of the 606 patients were already in A&E, triaged and waiting to be moved to another ward for further care.

Nicola Cottington, the trust’s chief operating officer, said: “Like many other trusts, we are experiencing sustained and significant demand for our services. We are very sorry to any patient that experiences a delay in their care and our teams are working very hard to ensure patients get the care they need at the earliest opportunity.

“To help us care for all of those who come through our doors, we are asking the public to get their Covid-19 and flu jabs, as well as utilising NHS 111 or their local pharmacy for non-urgent care and advice.

“Our A&E department is always available for those who need it and we urge those who need our care to attend A&E for serious accidents and emergencies.”

Nobody from ESNEFT was available for comment.