Wales politics

Ambulance service meets key 999 response target

Ambulances at a hospital
Image caption The ambulance service last hit its eight-minute response target in May 2012

The Welsh Ambulance Service has hit its target of reaching 65% of life-threatening incidents in eight minutes.

The figure for October 2013 was 65.2%, the first time the national target has been met since May 2012.

Health Minister Mark Drakeford thanked ambulance and A&E staff for their efforts he said provided "a solid basis" for performance over the winter.

But urgent cancer treatment figures worsened, with 86.8% of cases treated within 62 days, below the 95% target.

It is a decrease from the August figure of 88.6%.

In July, Mr Drakeford told AMs on the health committee that plans were in place to achieve cancer waiting times targets by October.

Those figures will be published next month.

New measures

Previous ambulance data from September showed 62.9% of ambulances had arrived on time, which was up 1.1% on August.

Statistics Wales said 70.5% of life threatening calls were responded to within nine minutes, 89.5% within 15 minutes and 95.4% within 20 minutes.

Mr Drakeford said: "I congratulate the ambulance staff for achieving the target and for their ongoing commitment to patients and improvement in delivery.

"However, I must emphasise, as did the McClelland review [of ambulance services], that the eight-minute target itself is only very weakly backed by clinical evidence as a measure of best outcomes for patients."

Mr Drakeford said the Welsh government was working on new ways of measuring performance of various health services, including ambulances, accident and emergency units and cancer treatment.

'Admission of failure'

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams welcomed the ambulance figures, saying: "It is good to see this target finally being met.

"While the Welsh Labour government's unambitious target is 10% less than in England and Scotland, it is still welcome to see the figures moving in the right direction.

"For too long, the people of Wales have had to put up with the worst ambulance response times on mainland UK."

The Conservatives focused their attention on the worsening cancer figures.

Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar said: "It should come as no surprise to anybody that on the very same day that these cancer targets are published, the Labour health minister has also signalled his intention to scrap them.

"This is a terrible admission of failure."

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