Sharp rise in 'amber' 999 calls to the ambulance service resulting in more than an hour wait

Credit: PA

A review into 'amber' 999 calls to the ambulance service is due to be published later today. If you call 999 and your call is graded as 'amber' there is no target time for the ambulance to arrive.

To coincide with the release of the review, ITV News has obtained figures which show how 52,000 emergency calls coded as amber between October 2017 and August this year resulted in a wait of longer than an hour for help to arrive.

Among the medical conditions included in the 'amber' category are things like stroke, poisoning, assault and breathing problems.

For the last three years, ITV Wales has been investigating the Welsh Ambulance Service's response model.

It changed in 2015. Since then, only 'red' life threatening calls have had a target time attached to them. That target is for 65% of calls to have a response within eight minutes.

But while that target has been hit, the information gathered by ITV Wales on 'amber' calls shows that since 2015, the number of amber calls received has risen from around 217,000 in 2015-16 to approximately 225,000 in 2017-18.

The number of amber calls resulting in a wait of longer than an hour for help to arrive has also increased - from 7% of amber calls during the period in 2015-16 to 23% in the same period of 2017-18.

The latest increase in wait times coincides with an increase in the number of red calls being attended.

October 2017 to August 2018 saw a 12% rise in red calls.

Read the response time figures for yourself, here.

The ambulance service said severe winter weather and delays outside hospitals led to increase wait times

The Welsh Ambulance Service said there was 'extremely high levels of demand' during the time of the request:

It should be noted that during the period of the request, the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust experienced extremely high levels of demand as well as increased winter pressures due to adverse weather, including severe snow.

In addition, the Trust experienced handover delays in hospitals as a consequence of the high demand. Throughout this time, clinicians on the Clinical Desk made contact with the callers to ensure that no patient safety issues were identified whilst the patients were waiting for a response.

– The Welsh Ambulance Service