Ambulance service slammed over 'shocking' response times


Owen Evans

SHOCKING ambulance response times have been recorded once again in the region.

Figures released by the Welsh Government yesterday showed in Flintshire just 45.4 per cent of the most urgent 999 calls arrived within the target time.

Welsh Government targets state 65 per cent of Category A calls – deemed to be immediately life threatening – should arrive within eight minutes.

The figures are a slight improvement on May’s rate, where 44.1 per cent of Category A calls in Flintshire got to their destinations within eight minutes.

But the figures still represent the third worst performing month since December 2011 in Flintshire.

In Wrexham, 65.7 per cent of Category A calls arrived within eight minutes.

In Wales as a whole, 53 per cent of emergency responses to Category A calls arrived at the scene within eight minutes – down from 54.1 per cent in May and 62.6 per cent in June 2013.

Speaking about the response figures for June, Conservative AM Mark Isherwood said: “These shocking figures add insult to injury, with the Labour Welsh Government only meeting its target once since June 2012. With Flintshire trailing behind even further for years, the time for excuses is well and truly over.”

Liberal Democrat AM Aled Roberts said the figures showed patients were “being let down”.

Mr Roberts said: “Over the past 12 months, changes have been put into place but the performance is still very poor.

“This shows there has been no improvement and I think it’s staggering with regard to response times in Wrexham and Flintshire, compared with Chester and it is impossible to explain why the figures are so poor.

“I think there are serious questions with regard to the management of the service. I think we’ve got to the stage now where the service have to question the competence of the ambulance trust to turn around performance.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “June’s figures are very disappointing. However, as the Health Minister Mark Drakeford made clear last month, he expects to see a sustained recovery in the ambulance service’s performance from the position in May and June.

“He said he wants to see performance improving month on month with July being better than June, August better than July and September better than August.”

The spokesman said information from the Welsh Ambulance Service for July to date shows there has been a marked improvement in the eight-minute response time performance and reduction in handover delays at hospitals.

Mike Collins, the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust’s director of service delivery, said there was a marked increase in the number of calls taken in June, compared with the same period last year.

He said: “Earlier this month, Trust board members pledged their support for our ambitious Performance Improvement Plan and the necessary actions which we anticipate will help us to deliver sustainable improved performance.

“They include the recruitment of more frontline staff, increased contribution by our Community First Responders, a concerted effort to reduce sickness absence and a drive to curtail unnecessary calls.

“We have been working closely with our local health board colleagues to reduce the delays in handing patients over to the care of the hospitals throughout Wales and we have seen real advancement. However, we believe there is still room for significant further improvement.”

See full story in the Leader

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