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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lib Dems say ambulance service is "in crisis"

Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, has described Wales’ ambulance service as being ‘in crisis’ as figures published today showing response times are nearly 10% worse than the same time last year.

But an ambulance boss says the service is working as hard as it can to get people to hospital as soon as possible.
Figures released today show that in June 53% of emergency responses to Category A (immediately life-threatening) calls arrived at the scene within 8 minutes, down from 54% in May 2014 and 62.6% in May 2013, and way below the target of 65%. In England and Scotland the target for the same priority calls is 75%.
These figures represent nearly a 10% drop compared to June 2013 last year.
Kirsty Williams said: “Once again we see ambulance response times getting worse.  The current target is not at all ambitious, yet still it is routinely missed.
“These figures remain a national disgrace.  To have only half of immediately life-threatening calls responded to within the 8 minute target time is a huge concern. 
“There is no hiding from the fact that our ambulance service is in crisis.  Monthly targets are missed and there is evidence the problem is getting worse, rather than better.  It is shocking that response times are nearly 10% worse now than they were this time last year.  Patients deserve better than this.
“Ambulance staff work incredibly hard and do an extremely difficult job.  Sadly, they are being forced to work in what is clearly a failing system provided by the Welsh Labour Government.”

Mike Collins, the Trust’s Director of Service Delivery, said: “The Welsh Ambulance Service took 35,570 calls in June, up by 1,699 calls from the same period last year. Of these calls, 14,167 were of the most serious in nature, up by 839 calls from the same period last year.

“We recognise that on occasion we fall short of the eight-minute target but are working, and will continue to work as hard as we can to get to patients as quickly as possible.

“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.

“Handover delays remain of great concern, not only because we are unable to respond to other 999 calls in the community but because of the experience of patients who wait in an ambulance to be admitted to the Emergency Department whilst these delays occur.

“Our Trust is facing its most serious challenge to date with regard to performance, but it is one we are confident we can overcome if we continue work hard, work in the smartest way possible and ensure that we deliver an effective service.

“Our staff are making every possible effort to deliver safe and high quality healthcare and services to the people of Wales, and for this they must be commended.

“Once again, we remind the public to ‘Choose Well’ and use NHS services appropriately; NHS Direct Wales, out-of-hour GP services and pharmacies are all available for healthcare and advice for minor illnesses and injuries.

“Please remember only to dial 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk.”



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