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  1. ITV Report

Health Secretary: Ambulance response trial a success

A new model of ambulance services is to start today.

Targets for response times are dropped for all but the most life-threatening calls - 'Red' calls.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething has said he has given the go-ahead following a successful pilot.

Credit: PA

The response model moves away from historic time-based targets for all but the most immediately life-threatening or ‘Red’ calls.

Mr. Gething says it now places a greater focus on patient outcomes, prioritising those in most need of an urgent response.

The target is for 65 per cent of the most urgent ‘Red calls’ to be responded to in eight minutes.

65%
Target for most urgent ‘Red calls’ to be responded to in eight minutes.

Since the trial started in October 2015, the 65% target has been achieved each month.

Performance has continued to improve and in each of the last 9 months, more than 75% of red calls have received an emergency response within eight minutes.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething meeting staff at Colwyn Bay Ambulance Station. Credit: ITV News

Since the implementation of the new clinical response pilot, the Welsh Ambulance Service has improved its performance significantly.

The latest ambulance statistics confirm this with a standard response time of less than five minutes to immediately life-threatening calls in each of the last six months.

It’s fantastic that the pilot has attracted global interest and the Welsh ambulance service has not only been invited to provide advice to a number of ambulance services in England and Scotland, but further afield to Canada, New Zealand, Australia, USA and Chile.

The Scottish Ambulance Services Trust is currently undertaking a nationwide pilot of a very similar model to our own.

It is crucial that we now grasp the opportunity and continue to lead the way internationally in this important area for the benefit of the people of Wales.

– Health Secretary Vaughan Gething

Our new clinical response model was first introduced around 18 months ago to turn us into an ambulance service focussed on improving the clinical outcomes for our patients.

Since then we have made great strides forward however, with demand on our ambulance service increasing year-on-year, we are certainly not resting on our laurels and know there remains work to be done.

We need to continue to transform the way in which we deliver our services if we are to meet these demands and ensure the best results for patients.

We’ve worked closely with PACEC throughout this process and look forward to going through the review and its recommendations in detail.

– Medical Director Brendan Lloyd, Welsh Ambulance Service

We’re pleased to have been given the backing to continue our improvement journey and further improve the standards of care we provide for our patients.

There have been very real and tangible signs of progress since we made these changes, which mean that the RED calls we are attending are now genuine life-threatening emergencies.

Thanks to the commitment of our staff and volunteers this also means that we are consistently reaching the most seriously ill or injured patients across Wales in a timely manner and providing them with the most appropriate care for their needs.

While we are satisfied with our progress to date, we know there is still work to be done, particularly for patients in our AMBER category, and that is certainly our focus moving forward.

– Richard Lee, Trust’s Director of Operations, Welsh Ambulance Service

Watch James Crichton-Smith's report here.