Runner Up - Newtown Local Business of the Year 2024 (Third Sector)

NEWS HEALTH POLITICS

Ambulance targets questioned

Questions have been raised over whether the Welsh Ambulance Service should keep chasing the eight-minute target for reaching immediately life-threatening “red” calls.

1 week ago   3 minutes read   1,052 views

The image for Ambulance targets questioned
 
Share       

By Liam Randall
Local Democracy Reporter

Questions have been raised over whether the Welsh Ambulance Service should keep chasing the eight-minute target for reaching immediately life-threatening “red” calls.

It comes after senior officials revealed changes will be introduced to how the service responds to patients later this year.


  Other Trending Stories

The ambulance service currently has a target of responding to 65 per cent of urgent calls within eight minutes.

However, the national response time target has not been met since July 2020, with the most recent figure for April this year standing at 48 per cent.

The logic behind the goal was challenged by the chair of the ambulance service during a meeting of its board held on Thursday (May 30, 2024).

Colin Dennis said: “What strikes me when you look at what we do is that we are under-performing.

“We’re not meeting 65 per cent in eight minutes but we are meeting 65 per cent in ten minutes. Is that two-minute time difference significant?

“I don’t have the answer to that, but I think there are questions that need to be asked around that very fundamental measure.

“We’re chasing a target which has its history going way back and the logic may have been flawed even then.

“There will be an assumption by those people who are measuring us, particularly Welsh Government and elsewhere, that hitting 65 per cent in eight minutes is really important. It might be, but it might not.”

The Welsh Ambulance Service previously made major changes to its response model in October 2015 as part of a trial, which was later made permanent by then-Health Minister Vaughan Gething.

It saw time targets scrapped for all but the most serious calls, categorised as “red”.

It also saw calls relating to some conditions, including suspected strokes and heart attacks, downgraded into the “amber” category.

It was argued at the time that it would allow ambulance crews to be prioritised for calls to immediately life-threatening conditions such as cardiac arrests.

During the board meeting, the service’s chief executive said he was concerned trying to reach red calls in eight minutes was hampering work to improve the quality of care provided to patients.

Jason Killens said: “During this month to date, we’ve already received about 1,000 more red calls than for this month last year.

“We have responded to about 100 more red calls in eight minutes than last year, but the percentile was ten per cent down.

“It is so important that we, as well as the public and our commissioners, are looking at the numbers.

“The timeline that we’ve been doing clearly illustrates that despite all our best internal efforts, it is not shifting the dial on the percentile rates.

“I am concerned that it distracts from the effort we should place into our organisation’s efforts to improve safety and quality.”

Mr Killens said measures taken to improve red call response rates had included an increase in staffing levels, shift pattern changes and examining how the service dispatches ambulances.

However, he said these had failed to make a significant impact, with the focus now moving towards further alterations to its response model.

He said: “Many colleagues on the board will remember that Wales was the first ambulance service in the UK to move away from time being the total measure of success and in producing quality indicators.

“Whilst time continues to be important for many patients and is an added measure of patient satisfaction, clearly the quality of what we do and the care we provide once we arrive on the scene is also increasingly important.

“We’ll be bringing forward the next phase later this year, which will see some changes made to how we manage activity and introduce a clinical intervention and assessment much earlier in the patient’s journey.”

You've viewed 1 stories so fas!

All About Newtown is an independent not-for-profit online news and information service for the town of Newtown in Mid Wales. We provide ad-free content, so rely on reader subscriptions and donations to run.

  Donate via PayPal

Related or similar stories based on this one

More cash demanded for air ambulance

11 months ago

Politicians call for expansion of Air Ambulance service

10 months ago

2nd phase of Air Ambulance review begins

8 months ago

Councillors to vote on supporting Air Ambulance base at Welshpool

1 year ago

Air Ambulance meeting today

1 year ago

Further £3m to recruit more emergency ambulance staff to improve response times

1 year ago

Business of the Week
New Home Furnishings

Vastre Industrial Estate

Follow us

Connect with us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram and Google News

     

Trending
Award winning escape rooms go mobile

2 days ago

New bridge to be installed next week

14 hours ago

General Election 24: Oliver Lewis

1 day ago

Donate to us

We're a not-for-profit community interest company and have no corporate owners. We'd appreciate anything you can give to keep us providing free content.

  Donate via PayPal
Upcoming Events
A History (and Future) of Learning Disabilities in the UK

20/06/24 10:00am

Digital Friends’ Group

21/06/24 09:30am

David Bolton - TV Hypnotist

21/06/24 06:00pm

Latest Stories
New bridge to be installed next week

14 hours ago

Inflation returns to 2% target

15 hours ago

Final day to apply for postal vote in General Election

18 hours ago

ICNN Logo