A journey that takes a few minutes by air will take an hour and a half by road if proposals to replace air ambulance cover with vehicles gets the go-ahead.

Dwyfor Meirionnydd MS Mabon ap Gwynfor made the frightening remark in the Senedd on Wednesday, 13 March while discussing the recommendation made in a report to close Caernarfon and Welshpool air ambulance bases.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said no decision has been made regarding the bases and a meeting to discuss the recommendation will take place on Tuesday, 19 Marcy, but if approved, Mr ap Gwynfor said the closures will “be a huge blow to people across north west and mid Wales”.

“In rural areas such as these, the air ambulance service has been life saving, providing prompt emergency treatment. The report claims that relocating the service to a site in the north east will lead to more people being treated sooner, but this will mean fewer communities being served, including those where transport links are very challenging.

Screengrab from MS Mabon ap Gwynfor's message
Screengrab from MS Mabon ap Gwynfor's message (N/a)

“This is extremely worrying when the report recommends a rapid response vehicle (RRV) as the main emergency response for communities in north west Wales such as Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Ynys Mon or north Ceredigion and Trefaldwyn. The lack of detail in the report as to how many vehicles and where they will be located only adds to the worry.

“Consider for example the time it currently takes to get from Caernarfon to Pen Llyn. It only takes a few minutes in the air ambulance, but it would take an hour and a half or so in a road vehicle.”

Mr ap Gwynfor said people living in Gwynedd, Ceredigion, Maldwyn, Mon, mid and north west Wales have the right to access the same lifesaving services as all other areas, adding that, despite their name the air ambulance is a mobile hospital “and in areas where we don't have critical emergency care, it provides an essential service”. 

The health minister said she understands the feelings expressed by politicians and people in the affected communities but it would be inappropriate for her to comment or pre-empt any final decision.”

Hear the discussion in full in our video above.