Wales

Welsh Ambulance Service gets £4.4m new computer

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Media captionHealth Secretary Vaughan Gething said the new investment would ensure the service has up-to-date technology

Funding for a new computer for the Welsh Ambulance Service, aimed at further improving response times, has been agreed by the health secretary.

The £4.48m investment will replace the existing system.

It aims to help ensure faster dispatches to life-threatening calls, as well as coordinating big events and major incidents.

Vaughan Gething said it was about providing a service that was "fit for the future".

He added: "The current technology which helps to allocate ambulances to the right call is getting slightly dated and is actually a hindrance for getting those response times for people that need it and in particular coordination between different emergency services."

The technology will also help monitor performance and capacity management across NHS Wales.

Richard Lee, director of operations for the Welsh Ambulance Service, said it would provide an easier system to track and dispatch ambulances.

He said the current technology, brought in during the early 2000s, was "at the end of its life".

"We're maintaining it and it's safe but it's time to move to a 21st Century computer-aided dispatch," he said.

It will be rolled out at the three control centres in Torfaen, Carmarthenshire and Conwy by the end of 2017.

Mr Lee added: "Our staff currently have to juggle three different systems but this will bring it all together.

"For our most seriously ill patients, it will have a feature called auto-allocate which will automatically dispatch the nearest vehicle as soon as we know the patient's life is in danger and that will shave a few seconds off each red response."

The latest performance figures, out at the end of November, showed 77.1% of responses to red calls arrived within eight minutes. The target is 65%.

Response time targets were scrapped last year for all except the most serious, immediately life-threatening calls.

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