The initiative is designed to reduce delays in response times suffered by the UK's 3,000 blue light ambulances. Such delays can seriously affect patients' treatment.
In particular, the satellite navigation will help ambulance crews locate the address of the patients they have been called to assist when they travel out of their normal area. Health minister Hazel Blears said: 'Prompt intervention and treatment by ambulance staff saves lives, and the most effective way to ensure that ambulance vehicles and controls have accurate information on the location of callers is through satellite navigation systems.'
For example, with heart attacks it has been estimated that fast access to defibrillators has the potential to save many of those who die as a result of cardiac arrest and every minute saved in giving heart attack drugs adds 11 days to the life expectancy of survivors.
The Government has set ambulance services a target to respond to 75% of life-threatening (so-called category A) calls within eight minutes. In the last issued statistics by the NHS, only three ambulance services met this target.
A further 12 services responded to between 60% - 75% of category A calls within eight minutes, and 11 services achieved a 50% - 60% success rate.
Blears said: 'We are aware that some services are finding it difficult to meet this challenging target. But with global positioning systems fitted in emergency vehicles, more investment by health authorities coming through and substantial numbers of newly-trained staff becoming available, our aim is that almost all of the services will meet the targets set by the end of September, with the remaining services reaching the target next year.'