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Ambulance figures: 'Ongoing improvement' needed

The Health Minister "expects to see ongoing improvement" in ambulance response times, the Welsh Government said today.

We welcome the improvement the Welsh Ambulance Service has made, with 58.3% of emergency responses to the most immediate life-threatening calls arriving at the scene in eight minutes, up from 53% in June.

There has also been an increase in demand over the previous month, with a 7% rise in the number of emergency calls with more than 38,000 for July.

However, the service needs to continue to build on this improvement in response times. The Health Minister expects to see ongoing improvement, with targets being achieved month on month.

The ambulance fleet continues to be upgraded with Welsh Government investment, with a further £4m announced today and additional funding for the recruitment of more than 100 frontline staff. It is now for the Welsh Ambulance Service to improve its performance.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

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'Improved service' vow as ambulance targets missed

The Welsh Ambulance Service says funding for new ambulances will help continue to improve service quality and patient care.

It comes as figures released today reveal Welsh ambulances have again missed their target response times.

For emergency responses to immediately life-threatening ambulance calls, 58.3% arrived at the scene within eight minutes – up from 53.0% in June but below the target of 65%.

Not only will the new vehicles improve the comfort and safety of our patients but also the working conditions for our staff.

Regularly replacing ageing vehicles ensures our fleet remains modern, reliable and fit-for-purpose.

The investment will allow us to continue to improve the quality of our services for the people of Wales and enhance patient care.

– Heather Ransom, Head of Resource for the Welsh Ambulance Service

Welsh ambulances get £4 million upgrade

The Welsh Ambulance Service is to get over 40 new vehicles as part of a major upgrade, the Welsh Government has announced.

Welsh Ambulance

The service will receive £4 million to buy 41 new fuel-efficient vehicles, including emergency ambulances and specialist rapid response vehicles.

There are currently 736 vehicles covering more than 8,000 square miles across Wales.

The Government claims the new ambulances will contain the latest equipment to ensure patients are treated in the best clinical environments possible.

Latest figures reveal the demands placed on the ambulance service with 35,570 emergency calls during June 2014.

They also show that immediately life-threatening incidents, which needed an emergency ambulance response, have increased by 30% over the last five years.

The demands placed on the ambulance service in Wales every day of the year are significant.

This is why we are continuing to invest in the ambulance fleet to make sure modern, reliable vehicles are available to respond to sick and injured patients.

This new funding will help provide high-quality clinical services, improve the comfort and care to patients and offer a much better working environment for ambulance service staff.

– Professor Mark Drakeford, Health Minister

Hundreds taken to hospital in police cars

More than 600 people have been taken to hospital in police cars in Wales over the last three years, because ambulances were not available.

Ambulances

Figures shared by Plaid Cymru reveal that in south Wales, the number of people taken to A&E by police officers has doubled since last year.

Among the injuries and illnesses suffered by people taken by police car includes attempted suicide, falls in the street, self-harm and hypothermia.

In a statement, the Welsh Ambulance service said:

"The Trust is working in partnership with police forces across Wales to reduce instances where our emergency colleagues are awaiting an ambulance response. Both the Trust and all four police forces maintain frequent contact and are building on the close relationship in support of each other and their staff."

Non-urgent ambulance calls: Woman dialled ‘999’ because she needed lift home

The Welsh Ambulance Service is encouraging people to choose the appropriate service for their healthcare needs after more than 31,000 non-urgent calls were received in the last year.

The calls included:

  • A man who dialled 999 because he had a fly in his ear (Milford Haven, June 2014)
  • A woman who had eaten cherries and felt constipated (Porth, August 2013)
  • A man who had discovered a bruise on his foot (Tywyn, November 2013)
  • A woman who asked whether the green part of a potato was poisonous (Bangor, November 2013)
  • A man with a ring stuck on his finger (Burry Port, June 2014)
  • A woman whose boiler had broken and had no credit to call the gas board (Swansea, October 2013)
  • A woman who dropped a television remote and needed someone to pick it up (Llandudno, December 2013)
  • A woman who didn't have enough money to buy a train ticket (Newport, March 2014)
  • A man with a cotton bud stuck in his ear (Bridgend, August 2013)
  • A mother whose daughter had drunk water from a dog bowl (Swansea, December 2013)
  • A woman who was intoxicated and needed a lift home (St Asaph, April 2014)
  • A woman who needed advice because she had fallen out with her brother (Hereford,November 2013)
  • A man with blisters on his foot(Penmaenmawr, January 2014)
  • A woman with a cast on her leg and wanted it taken off (Tredegar, January 2014)

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30,000 non-urgent calls to Welsh ambulance service in last year

Smartphone dialling 999
The ambulance service advises callers to use NHS direct for minor injuries. Credit: PA

The Welsh Ambulance Service is reminding people not to call 999 unless it is a genuine emergency.

The service says it took 31,219 non-urgent calls in the last 12 months alone.

Of those calls, only 670 required an ambulance, and just three needed a patient to be taken to hospital.

They included a woman who dialled 999 to ask if the green part of a potato was poisonous, and a caller whose daughter had drunk water from a dog's bowl.

The Welsh Ambulance Service says it's working hard to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions, and support care close to patient's homes.

"We don't want to deter anyone from calling 999, but we want them to think twice before they do. Sadly, we still receive a significant number of inappropriate calls that do not require an ambulance response.

"When people misuse the service it means our precious time is being taken away from someone who really does need our help. During peak periods, like the summer, every non-essential call has the potential to delay a response to a serious emergency."

– Richard Lee, Head of Clinical Services

Ambulance Service: More 999 calls and handover delays

The Welsh Ambulance Service has responded to criticism over its failure to meet its response time targets for the most urgent calls.

It says its response times have been affected by an increase in the number of calls received, and "lengthy handover delays at some hospitals."

The service says it recognises the fact that it does not always meet its targets, but says it is working as hard as possible to provide the best treatment for patients.

The Welsh Ambulance Service took 36,544 calls in May, up by more than 1,350 calls from the previous month and more than 1,700 calls from the same period last year.

The emergency healthcare system across Wales is facing continuous pressure with an ageing population and more people suffering long-term conditions.

An increase in the most serious type of emergency calls combined with lengthy handover delays at some hospitals has had an impact on our response times to incidents, and we would like to recognise the hard work, commitment and dedication of all our staff during this difficult time.

We recognise that on occasion we are short of the eight-minute target for the most serious calls, but are working, and will continue to work, as hard as we can to get to patients as quickly as possible.

We are committed to improving ambulance services in Wales as outlined in our clinical transformation and modernisation programme, Working Together for Success.

– Mike Collins, Director of Service Delivery, Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust

It also urges the public to use the most appropriate NHS services, and says "please remember only to dial 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured, or their life is at risk."

Plaid Cymru: Ambulance response times 'disastrous'

Plaid Cymru's Health spokeswoman Elin Jones is calling the latest ambulance service response times "disastrous", after it again failed to meet response targets.

These disastrous figures show that the Labour Welsh Government has once again failed to meet its target. This is the worst performance in over a year and reflects Labour's failure to properly run the health service.

Behind these statistics are real patients who have waited too long for life saving emergency treatment and have had their health suffer as a result.

– Elin Jones AM, Plaid Cymru Health Spokeswoman
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