Ambulance responses to immediately life-threatening (category A) calls were missed for the eight successive month in January.
Figures published today show ambulances arrived on time in a little over 8,500 separate category A cases. There were more than 14,600 in all.
The Welsh Government’s statistics service highlights snow as a factor during January. The last time the 65 per cent category A target was met was in May last year.
The figures have been published on the day of a Welsh Conservative debate on the ambulance service in the National Assembly.
The group is calling on the government to:
Increase the number of emergency ambulances operating in Wales.
Ensure that Wales has an adequate network of ambulance stations across the country.
Provide an assurance that the on-going Ministerial review of the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust will deliver improved response times.
A recent freedom of information response – obtained by the Welsh Conservatives – details the number of times ambulances arrived at a scene over one hour after an initial 999 call (identified as ‘category A’) was made. The target time is eight minutes.
Overdose/poisoning in Rhondda Cynon Taf (one hour two minutes)
Breathing problems in Vale of Glamorgan (one hour three minutes)
Animal bites/attacks in Neath (one hour seventeen minutes)
Assault/Sexual Assault in Neath (one hour eighteen minutes)
Stab/Gunshot/Penetrating Trauma in Blaenau Gwent (one hour 59 minutes)
Stroke – Cva in Rhondda Cynon Taf (two hours 36 minutes)
Last month Welsh Conservatives revealed the number of ambulances in Wales had dropped from 256 to 244, while the number of ambulance stations had also decreased. Seven have been closed so far during 2012/13 (Queensferry, Flint, Mold, Reynoldston, Monmouth, Dolgellau and Maesteg). Just four had shut their doors in the previous four years.
The current review of the ambulance service is the latest in a long line and follows previous assurances from the Welsh government. Following an ‘Efficiency Review of the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust’ in 2009, the then Health Minister Edwina Hart said: ‘I expect these changes to deliver a number of significant benefits’.
Shadow Minister for Health Darren Millar AM will lead today’s debate. He said:
“Very little has changed in our ambulance service and patients can rightly be forgiven a sense of déjà vu.
“Despite the hard work of frontline staff, waits are still too long, targets mean little, and service performance lags behind other parts of the UK.
“Every minute lost can harm the chance of a patient’s recovery, potentially costing lives, and causing distress to everyone involved.
“The closure of local services is only adding to the pressure on staff and it’s vital that unnecessary NHS reorganisation is properly considered in the current review.
“Labour’s record-breaking NHS budget cuts have resulted in inappropriate reform, hold-ups in A and E, and the potential for far longer waits in the future.
“We need reassurances that the current ambulance service review will result in the real changes that are needed and the excellent service Wales deserves.”