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Labour MS takes swipe at former Welsh Government health ministers

23 Sep 2021 3 minute read
Mike Hedges. Picture by the National Assembly (CC BY 2.0)

A Labour MS has taken a swipe at former Welsh Government health ministers.

Mike Hedges, who has represented Swansea East since 2011, said “for the first time” since he was elected “we have a Health Minister who I am confident will address the problems”.

People to have held the position in the Welsh Government since Mike Hedges was elected include the Economy Minister Vaughan Gething, Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths, and the First Minister Mark Drakeford. The current Health Minister is Eluned Morgan,

Hedges made the remarks in a debate on ambulance response times in the Senedd, which was brought forward by the Welsh Conservatives.

He told the Senedd that he’s been “contacted by angry relatives when ambulances have failed to attend”, and that “one constituent with a suspected heart attack was told to get a taxi”.

He argued that the Welsh Ambulance Services Trust was “not working effectively” and should be “split up” and run by the individual health boards, “so it’s their fault, not somebody else’s”.

The Welsh Conservatives have called on the Welsh Government to ask the military to help the ambulance service.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan told a Senedd debate calls have increased 20-30% compared to this time last year. She added that that staff were reaching “burnout” and that there was a “blockage” in getting people out of hospitals.

According to figures from July only 57.8% of the most serious calls, classed as red, were responded to within eight minutes. This is below the target of 65%. The service received more calls in July than in any month since the pandemic began.

‘I rarely spoke in health debates’ 

Mike Heges said: “I thank the Conservatives for bringing this debate today. As Members who were present in the last Senedd know, I rarely spoke in health debates. Fortunately, for the first time since I was elected, we have a health Minister who I am confident will address the problems.

“I also recognise the hard work and dedication of the Welsh ambulance staff in very, very challenging circumstances. I also accept the immense pressure the Welsh ambulance service is under, with increasing transfer-of-care times.

“I, like many Members, have been contacted by angry relatives when ambulances have failed to attend. One constituent with a suspected heart attack was told to get a taxi.

“Another constituent, at a pub quiz, had a suspected stroke. There was no ambulance available; the pub landlady took him to A&E.

“I mean, is it bad luck that the two health providers that have provided the worst service over several years are the Welsh ambulance service and Betsi Cadwaladr, which are, geographically, the two biggest direct providers?

“Providing more ambulances or getting the army involved, as proposed, what that will do is increase the number of patients waiting outside. I mean, you then have five more ambulances, you have five more ambulances waiting outside. The visible bottleneck in the system is A&E, and ambulances queuing outside is a symptom of this, not the cause.”

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2 years ago

It seems to me that the problem of ambulances waiting outside A&E is the hospital’s fault and not that of the Ambulance service. Apart from the staffing of A&E the closure of hospital beds has also made the situation worse. The A&E also have to cope with the lack of access to GP’s which just compounds the problem.

2 years ago
Reply to  Maldwyn

Yes at work it is a daily occurance to see 8 9 ambulances outside A+E for 4 hours olus. Don’t bother calling one

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