Concern over emergency services after woman dies

By Julie McNicholls Vale   |   Deputy news editor   |
Friday 22nd July 2022 7:01 am
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THE MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd has written to the chief constable of North Wales Police (NWP) and the chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust (WAST) following the death of a woman in Barmouth.

Liz Saville Roberts has written to NWP’s Carl Foulkes and WAST’s Jason Killens to ask how they will be investigating the emergency services’ response to an incident in Barmouth on Sunday, 10 July in which a woman died.

“I understand that NWP officers were required to deal with two challenging, unconnected incidents in Barmouth, and that their work was impacted by the need to attend the casualty while waiting approximately an hour for an ambulance to arrive from Machynlleth,” she writes.

“In spite of the presence of ambulance stations at Barmouth and Dolgellau, no crew were available to attend locally. Machynlleth is 26 miles from Barmouth, and the journey is hindered by slow, rural roads.”

She added: “There is considerable public interest in both ambulance response times and how ambulance crews based in Dwyfor Meirionnydd are deployed, and the degree to which police resources are being diverted to deal with emergency health incidents in the constituency.

“I also request details about what plans are in place over the next six weeks to deal with the influx of visitors in July and August to ensure safe emergency services and qualified medical staff are on hand to deal with health emergency calls in rural Gwynedd.

“While local people appreciate that the emergency services remain under pressure following Covid, it would be utterly unacceptable for a death to occur in circumstances such as those experienced in Barmouth last week without full public accountability by the authorities entrusted with public safety.”

Jason Killens, chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “The extreme pressures across the NHS in Wales have been well-documented and we accept that our response times have been disappointing, especially in parts of rural Wales.

“Extensive hospital handover delays and a rising number of life-threatening ‘Red’ calls has led to some very long waits for patients in recent weeks, especially with hot weather and Covid-19 related staff absence adding further pressure.

“Unfortunately, the challenges impacting our ability to respond in a timely way extended beyond the ambulance service and it will take a system-wide effort to resolve these deep-rooted, system-wide issues.

“We received correspondence from Liz Saville Roberts MP today and will be investigating thoroughly, working with our North Wales Police colleagues to do so. In the meantime, our staff and volunteers will continue to work extremely hard to deliver as safe a service as possible in the face of the sustained and extreme pressure our service is experiencing.

“Our thoughts are with the family of the person who sadly passed away.”

A North Wales Police spokesperson said the force will be responding to Ms Saville-Roberts directly.

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