Lib Dems call for cross party cooperation to combat ‘dangerous’ ambulance response times
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have urged all political parties to work together to find a solution to tackle “unacceptable and dangerous” ambulance response times.
Figures published today by the Welsh Government revealed that only 50.4% of the most urgent red ambulance calls were reached within the 8 minute target.
In addition, the number of patients waiting to start a course of treatment in Wales rose by 4,400 to 593,000 in July.
The number of patients waiting more than 36 weeks to start a course of treatment also increased to 231,000 in the same month.
The Welsh Government said over the last 12 months waiting lists in Wales have only increased by 1.9% compared to 10.7% in England.
A spokesperson said health boards are working hard to tackle the longest waits and the most urgent cases are always seen first.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said: “It is deeply concerning to see that only half of all life-threatening emergency ambulance calls were reached within the 8 minute target in August, the poorest performance since September last year.
“If we are to reduce pressures on our ambulance services and A&Es, we must invest more in community healthcare and social care. If people could get a GP appointment in reasonable time or be safely discharged from hospital, there would be far less pressure on emergency services.
“Across the board the figures are going in the wrong direction. More people waiting to start treatment, more people waiting longer to start treatment, more people waiting longer to start cancer treatment.
“This situation cannot continue. Labour Ministers must end their hands-off approach to our NHS and support our outstanding NHS staff and use their insight and expertise to put our NHS on a more stable footing.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Our hard-working NHS staff continue to operate amid high and increasing levels of demand. At least 2 million contacts are made with the NHS each month, in a country with a population of over 3.1 million residents – including 500,000 consultations.
“On top of this 399,000 hits were recorded on the NHS Wales 111 website and 71,000 calls made to the phone 111 service. It’s encouraging to see the longest waits are continuing to fall, now more than 60% lower than the peak. The majority of pathways are waiting less than 26 weeks, and the median is still around 19 weeks.
“The number of people waiting longer than eight weeks for diagnostic services has also decreased. It’s disappointing to see overall waiting lists back to their highest levels on record and that is due to the number of people joining the waiting lists. But over the last 12 months waiting lists in Wales have only increased by 1.9% compared to 10.7% in England. Health boards are working hard to tackle the longest waits and the most urgent cases are always seen first.
“Demand for emergency care services remains high, and performance is stable and generally better than the same period in 2022. The average response time for the most urgent ambulance call was seven minutes and 57 seconds which is under the 8 minute target but this is below the percentage set by the Welsh Government. Almost 70% of patients waited for less than 4 hours to be dealt with in emergency departments.
“We and health and social care partners are working hard to target improvements, particularly in respect of patient flow, ahead of the winter period. Cancer treatment has increased against the 62 day target but the Welsh Government accept that there is still more to do in this area despite the fact that 14,074 people were informed in one month that they did not have cancer.
“Despite the pressures on budgets, the Health Minister expects health boards to achieve the new targets for reducing the longest waits and we will continue to support them to achieve that.”
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