Welsh Conservatives have highlighted new figures showing more than 28,000 999 calls took over an hour to receive a ‘first response’ from the Welsh ambulance service last year.
According to the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, almost 400 incidents categorised as ‘assault/sexual assault’ did not receive a first response within 60 minutes, along with eight ‘stab/gunshot’ cases, and 736 incidents of ‘overdose’ or ‘poisoning’.
The statistics - obtained by the Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Health - show 10,959 first responders reached the scene of an incident in ‘1 to 1.5 hours’ during 2013. 1,658 took between ‘5 to 10 hours’.
77 responses are recorded as taking between ’10 to 15 hours’ and one in ’15 to 20 hours’.
In its response to the Freedom of Information request, the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust groups all 28,005 cases into call ‘nature’. This also includes:
• 2,263 ‘falls’ not receiving a first response within one hour
• 470 incidents of ‘psych/abnormal behaviour/suicide’
• 264 cases of ‘haemorrhage/laceration’
The figures relate solely to ‘first responses’, which do ‘not necessarily’ include ‘an ambulance response’.
In Cardiff, first responders failed to reach over 3000 999 calls within an hour last year. That compares with 2,475 incidents in Rhondda Cynon Taff and just 366 on Anglesey.
The statistics also show 321 incidents were labelled ‘Category A’, or ‘immediately life threatening’.
65 per cent of these calls are expected to receive an ambulance response within eight minutes. The Labour government’s target was last met in October 2013. Prior to this, 18 months had passed without the target being met.
It is currently being reviewed by Labour ministers and the ambulance service is undergoing changes following its latest review.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister, Darren Millar AM, said:
"There are deeply ingrained problems within our emergency care services and these figures lay bare their true extent.
"Despite the hard work of frontline staff, more evidence of severe delays and unacceptable waits make for hugely distressing reading.
"No-one should be left hanging around for this long after dialling 999, especially in life-threatening situations.
"While committed staff put in long hours and huge sacrifices, the Welsh NHS continues to struggle to deliver a step change in performance as a result of Labour’s record breaking NHS budget cuts.
"Until these cuts are reversed, we will continue to see Labour Ministers starving hospitals of resources and pursuing a downgrading and centralising agenda which puts lives on the line."