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'Response times must improve with 999 changes'

Changes to the way ambulances in Wales respond to 999 calls will only be effective if response times are improved, the shadow health minister has said.

From October this year, most ambulance time targets will be scrapped, apart from immediately life-threatening conditions.

The Welsh Government made the announcement today saying patients will instead receive "a bespoke clinical response based on their health needs", following a review.

Figures out today show by the end of June this year, 61.4% of emergency responses to immediately life-threatening calls arrived at the scene within eight minutes - the target is 65%.

These changes will only be effective if they lead to improved ambulance response times.

“That’s what communities and hard-pressed staff deserve and that’s what Labour ministers must now deliver with the new model.

“Wales has amongst the worst response times in Britain and the most urgent target has now been missed for 20 consecutive months.

“In an immediately life-threatening situation, the length of time waiting for an ambulance can make the difference between life and death.

“It is Labour’s mismanagement of our NHS that’s led to this shameful failure in performance and only a change at the top will put that right.”

– Darren Millar AM, Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Health

The Ambulance Service says its confident the changes result in better response times and benefit patients.

Ambulance changes mean 'better outcome' for patients

The chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust says she is confident that changes to the ambulance response system will benefit patients.

Tracy Myhill said: "Having a fast ambulance arrive at a patient’s door does not necessarily translate to a better outcome. However, having the right type of vehicle arrive at a patient’s door and timely transport to a treatment centre does.”

Dr Brendan Lloyd, medical director of the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust said: “Para-medicine and pre-hospital care has developed rapidly over recent years – the care delivered on scene together with taking the patient to the right treatment centre has far more of an impact on their outcome and quality of life than simply arriving at the scene of an accident or incident within eight minutes.”

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'Traffic light' system introduced for ambulance calls

The new ambulance response model will introduce three new categories of calls – red, amber and green.

  • Red calls are immediately life-threatening calls – someone is in imminent danger of death, such as a heart attack. The eight-minute response target will be retained for this group of calls.
  • Amber calls are patients with conditions potentially needing treatment and care at the scene and fast transport to a healthcare facility. Patients will be prioritised on the basis of clinical need and patients will receive a fast, blue light response. There will be no time-based target for amber calls.
  • Green calls are non-serious calls, which can often be managed by other health services, including healthcare advice or through self-care.

Currently, both 'life-threatening' and 'potentially serious' cases fall into the red category - but under the new system, only those in imminent danger of death will receive an immediate response from the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Emergency call handlers will also have up to 120 seconds extra to identify the severity of each condition and the type of response needed.

Changes made to ambulance response system

The Welsh Ambulance Service is to change the way it responds to 999 calls in a year-long pilot starting from October - including dropping the target response time for non-life-threatening cases.

From October 2015, ambulance crews will still aim to respond to immediately life-threatening conditions, such as a heart attack, within eight minutes.

But the service says all other patients will receive "a bespoke clinical response based on their health needs" - instead of a response based on a time target.

Under the current system, multiple ambulances can be sent to a 999 call in an attempt to respond within the eight-minute target.

Wales is changing the way its ambulance service responds to 999 calls in a year-long pilot from October. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

The changes are being implemented in response to the McClelland review of ambulance services in Wales, which recommended the Welsh Government should consider moving away from the eight-minute response time target.

The service has been under fire for consistently missing the old target of 65% of Category A calls within eight minutes, which included serious but less time-critical calls.

Two treated after liquid accelerant poured through letterbox

Credit: South Wales Fire and Rescue Service

Two people have been treated by paramedics at a property in Cardiff after liquid accelerant was poured through a letterbox and set on fire.

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service say it was called to the house in the Llanrumney area just after 1.30am this morning.

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Police arrest second man in shooting probe

A man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a shooting in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The shooting happened on the A4059 between Mountain Ash and Abercynon

Police say a 46-year-old man was arrested yesterday and is currently in custody.

Mark Jones, 43, was critically injured in the incident which happened in a lay-by New Road on Sunday evening.

Two gunshots were heard coming from Mr Jones's parked car.

Another 46-year-old man was arrested on Monday and police say they have been granted a further 36 hours to question him.

Cooke guides Glamorgan to victory

Credit: Nigel French /EMPICS Sport

Glamorgan were indebted to a brilliant unbeaten 94 from Chris Cooke as they chased down a target of 318 to beat Kent by three wickets in a thrilling Royal London One-Day Cup match in Cardiff.

Cooke struck eight fours and four sixes in his 54-ball innings as Glamorgan, who required 103 runs off the last eight overs, secured victory with two balls to spare.

Cooke did have a life, though, caught on 52 after sending a Ivan Thomas delivery high into the sky, only to earn a reprieve with the Kent seamer having overstepped.

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