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Statement on January 2015's performance figures

Tracy Myhill, Interim Chief Executive at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “January was a very challenging month for us, but we’ve seen a 5.9% improvement in the eight minute response times since December, which is encouraging.  We took more than 36,870 calls during January – that’s up by 2,160 calls from the same period last year – and more than a third of those calls required urgent assistance.

“We’d like to reassure the public that we’re not a million miles away from our target and that most patients aren’t being forced to wait hours for help in a serious or life threatening emergency.  A breakdown of our immediately life-threatening calls (‘Red 1’ and ‘Red 2’) reveals that we got to 62.8% of the more serious ‘Red 1’ calls in January (see Notes to Editors).

“One of our major constraints is still the handover of patients to hospitals and that’s why this month, in partnership with our health board colleagues, we’ve agreed national handover guidance which we expect will enable our ambulances to be released in a more timely fashion.

“Our focus is providing patients with the right care at the right time, and that doesn’t always mean taking them to hospital. The Trust has designed a series of ‘pathways’ to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and make better use of services in the community.

“Among them is the mental health pathway we’re piloting in Cardiff; instead of taking a patient to A&E, paramedics can call the health board’s ‘crisis team’ – mental health professionals available 24 hours a day who can advise on the most appropriate course of action, whether that be referring the patient to their GP, admitting them directly to a hospital unit, or advising the patient over the telephone about how to take their medications correctly, for example.

“In Cwm Taf, newly designed ‘care bundles’ mean that patients get a bespoke course of treatment depending on their illness or injury, which might include being admitted straight to a hospital ward, thus bypassing A&E, or being referred to a service in their community, like their local falls team – or it might mean being discharged at scene, freeing up paramedics’ time to attend the next 999 call.

“We’re trialling similar schemes in Aneurin Bevan (for example, the Physician Response Unit, Specialist Practitioner Hub) and early evidence suggests that the number of avoidable hospital admissions has reduced.

“Performance still isn’t where it needs to be, but we’re focusing all our efforts on improvement. We’re doing everything in our gift to deliver a service that the public can be proud of, but the public has a role to play too.

“If you’re feeling unwell but are unsure what to do, call NHS Direct Wales where nurses are on hand 24 hours a day, every day, for advice and information. Your local pharmacist, GP and Minor Injuries Unit, where there is no need for an appointment, can also help you in a non-emergency. Please only call 999 if you’re seriously ill or injured and your life is at risk.

“The challenges facing our ambulance service should not be underestimated, and I commend staff on a sterling effort to deliver outstanding clinical care in what are often very difficult circumstances.”


The service reached 48.53% of the most serious calls within eight minutes in January 2015, and here’s how we fared in:

A8 Response Times January 2015

9 minutes 53.63%
10 minutes 58.65%
12 minutes 66.67%
15 minutes 75.43%
20 minutes 84.83%

A breakdown the serious and immediately life-threatening ‘Red’ calls for January is as follows:

Red 1 e.g. cardiac arrest = 62.8%
Red 2 e.g. breathing difficulties = 46.7%

25 Feb 2015 10:07