NEW response time targets will be set for South Western Ambulance Service in rural areas like Wiltshire.

It comes as SWAS has struggled to achieve the eight-minute target to send an ambulance to the most urgent calls in the county.

Latest figures show that in the year to February SWAS achieved 59 per cent in Wiltshire and 88.7 per cent in Swindon.

An ambulance typically takes 15 minutes to reach a patient in the Kennet area compared to six and a half minutes in Swindon. In North Wiltshire it takes 11.6 minutes and in West Wiltshire 9.18 minutes.

The performance of SWAS in Wiltshire mirrors that of its predecessor Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) which also failed to consistently meet the eight minute target. SWAS merged with GWAS in 2013.

Neil Le Chevalier of SWAS said it has agreed to meet the national response targets trust wide this year but may not in some areas.

Meanwhile it is distributing 120 defibrillators to public places in Wiltshire and wants to recruit more community responders who can use them to serve rural areas.