FEWER than half of ambulances responding to life-threatening incidents in Flintshire turned up within their target time last month, new figures have revealed.
But response times for the most urgent 999 calls in Wrexham in December were higher than anywhere else in Wales, according to statistics released by the Welsh Government yesterday.
Ambulances should reach category A calls – where there is an immediate threat to life – within eight minutes. The Welsh Government target is for 65 per cent of ambulances to arrive to the most urgent calls within that target time.
But in Flintshire only 320 of 667 of ambulances responding to category A calls made in December – or 48 per cent – met the eight minuute target. That made Flintshire the third worst performing of Wales’ 22 local authority areas for last month.
By contrast Wrexham was Wales’ top performing area – with 72 per cent of ambulances reaching category A calls within eight minutes. In Wrexham 433 of the 601 category A calls were reached in the target time.
The all-Wales average figure for December was 57.6 per cent, down from 63.2 per cent in November but up on last December’s rate.
Speaking of the Flintshire figures, Aled Roberts AM said: “It is a disgrace that so few immediately life-threatening calls were responded to within the target time.
“The Health Minister may blame winter pressures, but the fact remains that poor ambulance response times take place all year.
“People in Flintshire deserve so much better than this. Having 65per cent of life-threatening calls responded to within eight minutes is not an ambitious target, yet the Welsh Labour government consistently fails to meet it.”
Speaking about the figures for the whole of Wales, a Welsh Government spokesman said: “The ambulance trust experienced increased pressure in December with unpredictable and spikey demand causing random peaks in the number of acutely ill patients requiring an emergency ambulance response. This is a reflection of pressure across the whole unscheduled care system.
“The figures show that 67.9 per cent of Category A calls received a response within 10 minutes, 83.6 per cent within 15 minutes and 91.9 per cent within 20 minutes.”
Mike Collins, director of service delivery at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “We took 37,323 emergency calls in December, up by 2,959 calls from the previous month.
“The urgent healthcare system across Wales faces unparalleled pressure, and an ageing population and more people with a long term condition means demand on our ambulance service is ever increasing.
“We are working with our health board colleagues to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions. This includes alternative care pathways, a system designed to make better use of community-based services.
“Advanced paramedic practitioners also provide a wider range of specialist healthcare at the scene of an incident or at a patient’s home.
“We are committed to improving ambulance services across Wales as outlined in our ambitious five-year modernisation plan, Working Together for Success.
“Again, we would invite the public to support NHS Wales’ Choose Well campaign to ensure our busy emergency services are available for those who need them most urgently.
“For advice and treatment of most illnesses, visit your GP, or call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 for confidential health advice and information.
“Treatment for minor injuries, such as cuts, bites, stings and muscle and joint injuries, can be provided at your local minor injuries unit, where there is no need for an appointment.
“Only dial 999 in a life-threatening emergency, if someone is seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk.”