Welsh Conservatives have questioned ambulance service staffing in South East Wales and called for guarantees that reported shortages are not being repeated across the country.
Shadow Minister for Health, Darren Millar AM, has also called for Labour’s First Minister to make a statement on the use of private ambulances in the region.
His comments follow South Wales Argus reports of a staffing shortfall and the use of the independent sector to maintain service provision.
The Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust has confirmed it is facing staffing challenges in South East Wales.
Mr Millar said:
“The problems in South East Wales are a symptom of far wider challenges in the ambulance service across the country.
“Labour’s record-breaking NHS budget cuts are biting hard and our emergency care system is struggling to cope with hospital bed shortages which lead to packed A&E departments and ambulances queuing at hospital front doors.
“Hard-working NHS staff are struggling and the pressure is becoming intolerable - it’s no wonder that staff morale is at rock bottom and recruitment problems are becoming more acute.
“I urge Labour’s First Minister to make statement on these problems and guarantee they are not being repeated in other parts of Wales.
“While Welsh Conservatives do not oppose use of the independent sector if required, Welsh Labour has previously maintained it does.
“It is therefore incumbent upon Labour ministers to clarify this U-turn and provide an explanation of its long-term plans for the ambulance service.”
South Wales East Assembly Member William Graham said:
“This is the first time the independent sector has been drafted in to assist the ambulance service in our region and the reasons for that are of great concern.
“Communities here are rightly worried and guarantees of a long-term solution are urgently required.”
Assembly Member for South Wales East Mohammad Asghar said:
“Labour’s huge cuts to the NHS budget continue to hit our health service hard and this is another example of hard-working staff under huge and unnecessary pressure.
“While I do not oppose use of the independent sector to plug the gap if required – this is not a long-term and sustainable solution.”