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.”
The Ambulance Service says its confident the changes result in better response times and benefit patients.
Ambulance service confident all 999 calls will get better response as a result to changes
Only 42.6% of ambulances in Wales got to the most life threatening calls within 8 mins according to Welsh Government figures published today. The target is for 65% of them do to so. The figures for November were 51%.
In certain parts of Wales the response figures were even worse:
- Torfaen - 28.3%
- Rhondda Cynon Taff - 29.9%
Half of Welsh local authorities performed below the 42.6% average figure. The best performing area, Conwy was still below the national target of 65%.
The chief executive of the service Tracy Myhill says "We completely appreciate that this presents an unacceptable level of service delivery across the whole health and social care system."
The Welsh Conservatives called the figures "the worst on record".
More evidence of a bleak mid-winter for the Welsh NHS, these are truly horrific figures – the worst on record – which must set alarm bells ringing for Labour Ministers who have inflicted record-breaking cuts on the Welsh NHS.
Today sees the release of the latest ambulance response times in Wales for December 2014.Read the full story ›
The ambulance service is to receive a cash injection of £11m, the Welsh Government has announced.
The organisation which commissions emergency ambulances will receive £8m of extra funding this financial year.
The money will also help purchase 17 new emergency ambulances at a cost of £3m to add to the 243 fleet in Wales.
It's come from the £40m of 'winter pressures' money given to the NHS earlier this month.
The new chief ambulance services commissioner for Wales Stephen Harrhy said the money will not only help improve response times but help 'deliver an improved clinical service'.
"Improving the performance of the emergency ambulance service is a priority for the Welsh Government. This multi-million pound investment is proof of that commitment.
"It will increase the number of frontline emergency ambulances available across Wales. The Emergency Ambulance Services Committee has also invested £7.5m to allow the ambulance service to employ 120 additional paramedics."
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Shadow Health Minister, Darren Millar, talks to ITV Wales in response to today's ambulance response times.
Last month, 14,067 calls to the Welsh Ambulance Service were assessed and categorised as serious and immediately life-threatening.
The service took 36,101 calls during August, up by 494 calls from the same period last year but down by 1,971 calls from the previous month.
In response to today's figures on ambulance times, the service said they're working hard to reach patients within the target times set by the Welsh Government.
Since April the Trust has recruited 79 extra staff into its workforce across Wales.
Resolving handover delays remains our top priority and we are working with all Local Health Boards in Wales to minimise these where possible. Over the summer months we have increased our use of HALOs (Hospital Ambulance Liaison Officers), clinicians and non-clinicians employed by the Trust to ensure individual handover delays are escalated to senior managers at all affected hospitals and that plans are in place to ensure delays are minimised.
The emergency healthcare system across Wales is under significant pressure and demand for our service remains very high. We recognise that on occasion we fall short of the eight-minute target but are working as hard as we possibly can to get to patients as quickly as possible.
The Welsh Liberal Democrat leader says today's ambulance response time figures are a 'national disgrace'. Kirsty Williams AM said: "There is no hiding from the fact that our ambulance service is in crisis."
Once again we see ambulance response times getting worse. The current target is not at all ambitious, yet still it is routinely missed.
These figures remain a national disgrace. To have only half of immediately life-threatening calls responded to within the eight minute target time is a huge concern.
There is no hiding from the fact that our ambulance service is in crisis. Monthly targets are missed and there is evidence the problem is getting worse, rather than better. It is shocking that response times are nearly 10% worse now than they were this time last year. Patients deserve better than this.
The Welsh Government has admitted that the Welsh ambulance response times for August are not where they want them to be.
August’s figures are disappointing and are not where either the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, health boards, the Welsh Government or the public would want them to be.
However, an analysis of these figures shows they are an improvement on the service’s performance in five of the past six months and the difference in the median response time in August compared to that in July is a matter of just eight seconds.
Speaking at the end of June, Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford set out a three-month timetable for the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust to improve its emergency response time performance – we are currently only two-thirds of the way through that programme.