SOME ambulance shifts are not being covered because of a lack of staff, the Welsh Ambulance Service has revealed.
Replacement paramedics were sometimes not brought in when staff numbers were down, either as the service chose not to cover the shifts, or because no other staff members were available.
Mike Collins, director of service delivery at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said he recognised some shifts could not be covered and said a recruitment drive was under way to bring in more staff.
He said: “We recognise on occasion some shifts may go uncovered and these are for a number of reasons, including vacancies, sickness, annual leave and training, or we may actually choose not to cover a particular shift if the demand is anticipated to be lower.
“When this happens, we ensure staff who are on duty are moved across the region to be in the best position to respond to 999 calls.”
Mr Collins said the trust has “begun an extensive recruitment drive”, with 27 new paramedics and 10 emergency medical technicians employed.
He said a trust-wide roster review was taking place to help better align resources and a wellbeing support service has been introduced to support staff when they are sick.
The comments were made after concerns raised by a paramedic working for the Welsh Ambulance Service in Wrexham and Flintshire, who said the lack of cover could pose a risk to life.
The worker, who did not wish to be named, said: “Normally, they would first look to relief. If there was any spare capacity in relief they would put it out, but the relief staff should be there, there’s not that many of them and their next port of call is overtime but that’s the part they are not covering.
“Serious cases are classed as a red call, and we would expect we will get an ambulance to them within eight minutes but that’s an impossibility.”
The worker said on one day last week at the ambulance base in Dobshill, Flintshire, they were down from four ambulances to three being available as a member of staff was not in work.
He added: “There is a risk to people’s life without question.”