We Need a Properly Resourced Ambulance Service in Wales
17th June 2013
"We need a properly resourced ambulance service and as far as the South Wales Programme is concerned, a new option - option 5 'no cuts' and for a reversal of all the cuts made under Welsh Labour."
"Wales has the worst ambulance response times in mainland UK." These were the words of Welsh Liberal Democrat leader, Kirsty Williams, responding to the latest alarming figures on the Welsh ambulance service.
In the year to March 2013, over 11,000 Category A calls (the most serious emergency calls) took longer than 20 minutes to reach their destination; the target response time is 8 minutes. This figure represents over 40% of such calls.
NHS Cymru & the Welsh Government are currently consulting on plans to reduce the number of hospitals in South Wales providing full doctor-led critical services, such as Accident & Emergency, maternity and critical childcare. Outside of the communities served by the designated specialist centres, the most critical patients will potentially have a lot further to travel.
It is precisely in such cases that patients will have to rely on the over-stretched Welsh Ambulance service.
Ambulance workers can hardly know whether they are coming or going. There has been review after review and recommendation after recommendation in the last few years but still the problem gets worse.
The service needs massive investment but where is this going to come from when the Labour Welsh Government is passing on deep cuts to the NHS in Wales? According to the Wales TUC these amount to £660 million in the last 3 years.
In the consultation over the South Wales Programme, the public is invited to chose between 4 options for the configuration of critical services. Each of these options offers the public the choice on which part of South Wales should lose their critical care services.
The health boards tell us that it is only 20% of users that will be affected by the downgrading of A&E units, but it is this 20%, those who are the sickest, with the most acute injuries or medical conditions, that will have the burden of additional travel time to a hospital with the staffing and resources to meet their needs. Lets be clear here, these are also the people for whom every second counts in order for them to have the best outcome.
The Welsh Labour government are playing Russian roulette with the lives of the people of Wales. These proposed changes need resources not cuts and the reduction in A&Es aimed at helping the sickest and most injured.
We need a properly resourced ambulance service and as far as the South Wales Programme is concerned, a new option - option 5 'no cuts' and for a reversal of all the cuts made under Welsh Labour.