Wales politics

Ambulance response target trial given extra six months

Paramedic

A year-long trial of ambulance response time targets in Wales is to be extended by six months, after being praised for "promising" results.

The targets introduced last October prioritise critically-ill patients.

Since the change, a key target of responding to 65% of life-threatening "red calls" within eight minutes has been met every month.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething hailed "significant and encouraging strides" but said more had to be done.

Under the pilot scheme, the eight-minute target which once applied to about 40% of 999 calls to the ambulance service now applies to fewer than 10%.

For all other calls - categorised as amber or green - the ambulance service is given more time to judge the most appropriate response.

In a written statement, Mr Gething said: "I acknowledge that while improvements delivered by our ambulance services have been promising, we know that more needs to be done to better utilise existing resources and partnerships to strengthen local responsiveness.

"It is clear, however, that WAST [Welsh Ambulance Service Trust] and its staff have made significant and encouraging strides which I hope will be recognised and supported by all members [of the assembly]."

Conservative health spokeswoman Angela Burns said: "Whilst we welcome any signs of improving performance, sceptics will continue to have concerns that the new measures have only given the illusion of improvement.

"It is vital, therefore, that efforts now focus on achieving consistency in response times and the Welsh Government must provide the workforce with the support it needs and deserves."

More on this story