‘Unacceptable’ delays to life-threatening response

By Chris Betteley   |   Reporter   |
Thursday 18th November 2021 6:47 am
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THE ability of ambulances to get to patients quickly and within target times has been “significantly hampered”, health chiefs have said, as figures revealed that in Hywel Dda one person waited for more than an hour on a life-threatening ‘red’ call, and six people were left waiting more than 12 hours for an ambulance to arrive.

A Freedom of Information request from Senedd Conservatives uncovered a breakdown in ambulance response times for September, revealing that 74 red-calls for life-threatening emergencies in Wales took over half an hour to be reached, with two of those taking over an hour - including one in Hywel Dda.

The Hywel Dda region also had 15 patients waiting between 30 and 60 minutes, data showed.

September saw only 52 per cent of red calls reach their patient within eight minutes, against a 65 per cent target set out by the Welsh Government. More than half of amber calls - not classified as life-threatening - took more than an hour to be responded to in Hywel Dda, with 142 of 2,207 calls in September taking more than six hours.

Six people were left waiting more than 12 hours in a response to the lowest priority ‘green’ calls.

Amber and green calls are not subject to response target times.

Montgomeryshire MS and Shadow Health Minister Russell George said the long ambulance waits were “unacceptable” and urged the Welsh Government to “fix” the problem.

The Welsh Government said it is “working hard” to respond to “significant challenges” related to the pandemic, and the Welsh Ambulance Service said the delays to response times are a “symptom” of pressures and staff shortages across the NHS, “exacerbated by the pandemic” which had “significantly hampered our ability to get to patients quickly.”

Jason Killens, the chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said that red callouts over 30 minutes represented a “small proportion” of the total number of incidents, but added that the service “completely acknowledges that this performance remains unacceptable and know how distressing it can be when your loved one is ill or injured and you’re waiting for help.”

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