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Friday, June 16, 2006

Lost in Wales

On Tuesday the Assembly will be debating a motion calling for an inquiry into the Welsh Ambulance service. This is a hot topic in Wales at the moment, especially after its former boss went to the press claiming the service is in a dire state and blaming the Labour Assembly Government for under-investment:

The service is struggling to hit its targets for responding to 999 emergency calls and needs an estimated £35m of investment in staff, vehicles and communications equipment, including advance satellite navigation.

The crisis in the service was brought to a head last month when Roger Thayne, its interim chief executive, stepped down after just two months in post.

Mr Thayne later told a television programme that the failings in the ambulance service were costing 500 people their lives every year.

Just how urgent this issue is can be illustrated by the latest statistics. In the quarter ending March 2006 there were just under 70,000 emergency calls, up 4% on the same period last year; 81.4% of responses to all emergency calls arrived within the target times; 56.7% of first responses to immediately life-threatening emergency (Category A) calls arrived within eight minutes; 61.8% within nine minutes and 67.1% within 10 minutes; 68.5% of urgent journeys arrived not more than 15 minutes later than the requested arrival time.

And then just to underline the problem today's Western Mail reports that paramedics are buying their own sat-nav equipment for ambulances. There are people's lives at risk here. I would say that an inquiry and some form of commitment by the Government to implement its findings is more than justified.
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