TWO police officers attacked in the line of duty were told to wait two hours for an ambulance.

The officers were carrying out an investigation at a property in Hove on Thursday when they were attacked.

One was punched several times in the head, causing a concussion, and his female colleague’s knee was dislocated during the assault.

The officers needed hospital treatment and an ambulance was called to the address at 6.57pm.

But they were told the incident was a “Category 3 call” which requires a response within two hours.

Colleagues made a follow-up call but the service was responding to “patients in higher categories”.

A police officer, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “They expect us to come fast enough when they’re in trouble.

“But when we are, we’re told to wait two hours.

“Within that period, another officer attended an injured drunk in Brighton who was picked up.”

Paramedics arrived at the scene at 9.13pm – but the patients had already been taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital.

The male officer remained overnight.

His female colleague was assessed for a suspected hairline fracture.

A 23-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm without intent following the incident.

A spokesman for the South East Coast Ambulance service said: “At the time of the call, we were extremely busy and were receiving high numbers of 999 calls.

“We did receive a follow-up call following the initial call but unfortunately, all of our available crews were committed, responding to patients in higher categories of call at the time and we were not able to send a resource immediately.

“We work hard to maintain a good working relationship with our police colleagues.

“We have not been contacted by them directly regarding this but would be happy to discuss it further with them if needed.”

Operators at the ambulance service assign a “category” to incidents, based on the information given to them in a 999 call.

A“category 3” call – such as the Hove incident – is deemed an “urgent call” and an ambulance should normally respond within two hours.

Category 2 incidents are “emergency calls” such as stroke patients and an ambulance will take 18 minutes to respond on average.

Category 1 incidents are calls to people with “immediate life-threatening and time-critical injuries and illnesses” and the ambulance service will take seven minutes to respond on average.

Superintendent Julia Pope said: “We appreciate that, in common with ourselves, our ambulance colleagues do find themselves stretched at times and similarly have to prioritise their most urgent cases.

“We are very grateful to the St John Ambulance team who responded, attended the scene and took the officers to hospital for medical treatment.

“They are now recovering from their injuries and being supported by the force.”