Welsh Ambulances Miss Targets

Only 53 Per Cent Of Welsh Ambulances Arrived At The Scene Of An Emergency Within Their Eight-Minute Response Time Target During June


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397
Ambulances in Wales missed their targets for response times during 2014, putting the lives of patients at risk, new data shows.

The emergency service is required to respond to all calls within just eight minutes, but this was missed on many occasions throughout the month, with traffic, hoax 999 calls and staff shortages all potentially being to blame.

Figures show just 53 per cent of all calls were responded to within the eight-minute target, which indicates a decrease from the previous month when it was 54.1 per cent, while this is a significant fall from June 2013, when 62.6 per cent of dispatched ambulances arrived at their destination on time.

During June 2014, the Welsh emergency services received 35,570 calls for ambulances, of which 14,167 were for serious cases - known as Category A calls. However, for these more serious reports of illness or injury, only 53 per cent were responded to within the eight-minute target.

In 96.7 per cent of Category A cases, ambulances were at the scene within half an hour, but this can often be too long to wait if a patient is suffering a heart attack or other life-threatening health issue. 

This also raises concerns about the 3.3 per cent of calls that took over 30 minutes to respond to, putting the safety of patients in serious jeopardy.

Speaking to BBC News, director of service delivery for the Welsh Ambulance Service Mike Collins commented: "We recognise that on occasion, we fall short of the eight-minute target, but are working, and will continue to work, as hard as we can to get to patients as quickly as possible.

"We have been working closely with our local health board colleagues to reduce the delays in handing patients over to the care of the hospitals throughout Wales and we have seen real advancement."

However, Mr Collins acknowledged there was still work to be done before significant improvements would be seen.

Expert Opinion
The fact that just over half of Welsh ambulances are reaching patients within their target time of eight minutes is extremely worrying. Attending incidents quickly and providing the care patients need can be crucial to their chances of survival and recovery, so it is vital standards in Wales are improved.

“During the course of our work we regularly see cases where people are desperate for answers and justice after their loved ones have suffered serious injuries, illnesses or even death as a result of ambulance delays.

“The safety of patients should always come first and it is important this report is taken on board by the NHS and steps are taken to prevent the delays many patients are subjected to from being repeated in the future.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner