First Minister Carwyn Jones has acknowledged that some patients will be affected "adversely" by ambulance delays. He said such cases should always be investigated and lessons learnt. He was responding to a question in the Senedd from Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies about recent cases of people waiting 10 hours or more for an ambulance because they were classified as amber, rather than red, under the call handling system.
Mr Davies raised a 20 hour wait in west Wales and two cases in the Vale of Glamorgan, the most recent involving a woman with a broken hip.
In Cowbridge, a lady waited 10 and a half hours for the ambulance to turn up on Sunday, getting admitted to A&E at 01:15 in the morning on Monday morning. What measures are you putting in place to address those deeply distressing wait times that families, patients and, indeed, the paramedics and operators of the ambulance service have to deal with?
Those examples need to be investigated, of course, and investigated fully. The ambulance response times model was devised by clinicians. It is designed to ensure that those who are most in need of an ambulance get an ambulance. We know that ambulance response times have improved greatly over the past few months.
The Conservative leader said the problem was caused by ambulances having to wait outside A&E departments for patients to be admitted. He said that the Welsh NHS had lost 1,000 nurses in three years, leaving hospitals unable to cope with the increasing number of patients.
The First Minister insisted that there were more nurses than ever working in the Welsh NHS. He suggested that the real problem was delayed transfers of care, when patients who no longer need medical care can't be discharged from hospital because the social care that they need isn't ready in time.
If we look at the figures, we see that ambulance response times are improving ... we see improvements in delayed transfers of care, we see improvements in terms of diagnostics, we see improvements in terms of referral-to-treatment times. But, there will be occasions where some people are affected adversely, and they need to be looked at very carefully and investigated, and lessons learned from those occasions. The financial pressures on the NHS are always considerable ... we are in a position where, fairly soon, the NHS would consume half of our resources.