Wales politics

Ambulance responses meets key time target

Welsh ambulances

Ambulances in Wales have met a key time target for responding to the most life-threatening emergencies after a change to the way calls are classed.

Almost 69% of code red calls were responded to within eight minutes in October, exceeding the 65% target.

Around 5% of all 999 calls were subject to the target that month, compared to 40% before the year-long trial began.

Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething said the new system was working, but opposition parties dispute the claim.

"We know that change can be difficult in the health service - for staff and the public," said Mr Gething.

"However, the initial figures from this pilot suggest that the new clinical response model is ensuring that patients are getting the right care, in the right place, at the right time."

Tracey Myhill, chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: "We've made a really solid start on this ground-breaking new pilot, and today's figures are testament of that."

'In the dark'

Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams said she was concerned that the "vast majority" of emergency calls were no longer subject to any time-related targets or had any performance data published.

She said: "This new targeting regime may make life easier for Labour ministers, giving them one less negative headline every month, but in reality people are being left in the dark as to how well their ambulance service is actually performing."

Plaid Cymru health spokesperson Elin Jones and Ms Williams both pointed out that ambulances in three health board areas - Hywel Dda, Cwm Taf and Powys - still failed to meet the 65% threshold for code red calls responded to in eight minutes.

"The Labour government is still struggling to meet its watered-down targets," Ms Jones added.

"It is wrong of the government to call its performance a success."

The Welsh government denied Ms Williams's claim about the lack of data on non-red calls, pointing out that response data on amber calls had also been published.

'Extra investment'

Conservative shadow health minister Darren Millar congratulated the ambulance service on the figures.

"Whilst the targets are lower than those elsewhere in the UK this is a significant achievement and hardworking staff should be commended," he said.

But Mr Millar added: "The answer to sustained improvement in performance does not lie in the Labour approach of scrapping targets and record breaking NHS budget cuts; instead we need to see extra investment in the ambulance service and our wider unscheduled care system."

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