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News : Ambulance Response Times Scrapped in Wales
Wales, UK, July 29, 2015 -- Ambulance response time targets in Wales will be scrapped for all but the most life-threatening calls.
For less urgent incidents, Welsh Ambulance Service paramedics will be judged on the care they give – or the clinical outcome – and not how fast they arrive on scene.
Fewer calls will be classed as "red" calls, which need an eight-minute response time and include cardiac arrest and breathing difficulties.
The Welsh Ambulance Service Trust will pilot the new scheme from October 1 for 12 months across the whole of Wales.
It will re-categorise calls into red, amber and green.
About 500 red calls are currently made every day across Wales. Under the new system, it is hoped this will be slashed to just 150 a day.
Darron Dupre, UNISON Cymru/Wales’ ambulance lead, says he is extremely excited by the announcement.
He said: "Hopefully this should give a lot more confidence to people in desperate need of an ambulance that they will get the quick response they need as ambulances won't be wasting time on calls they don't need to attend.
"Paramedics will be able to get to people a lot quicker because of this new categorisation system and we welcome it. WAST can finally be judged on the clinical outcome of a patient and not how fast they can drive."
Tracy Myhill, chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, said: "Having a fast ambulance arrive at a patient’s door does not necessarily translate to a better outcome.
"However, having the right type of vehicle arrive at a patient’s door and timely transport to a treatment centre does."
For all 999 calls not classed as "red", the call centre will get extra time of up to 120 seconds to ask vital questions to determine whether the patient even needs an ambulance and to make sure they get the right response.
Vaughan Gething, deputy health minister, said: "It is a move away from the system based solely on the eight-minute response time target, which was introduced 41-years ago, to one which measures how successful our ambulance clinicians are in ensuring they have the most positive impact on clinical outcomes and people’s quality of life.
"I am confident these changes will improve patient experience.
"They will also make emergency ambulance services in Wales among the most progressive and transparent in the world."
It comes as ambulance response figures for Wales hit their highest point in more than six months, with 61.4% of all emergency calls being responded to within the eight-minute target.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board remained the best performing board in the country with 68.9%.
It is also the only board to hit the Welsh Government target of 65%, with Hywel Dda, which covers Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, the worst performing with 53.1%.
Wrexham continues to see the best performance rates, with more than 80% of life-threatening calls being responded to within the eight-minute time frame.
Also hitting the target are Conwy and Denbighshire, with Gwynedd not far off at 62%.
At 60.8%, Flintshire has seen an improvement of more than 20% since Christmas, while Anglesey is the worst performance area with 58.5%.
The news hasn't been welcomed by everyone though with Plaid Cymru calling it "a dangerous experiment".
Ambulance response time targets in Wales will be scrapped for all but the most life-threatening calls.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Welsh Ambulance Service:
The Welsh Ambulance Service is an NHS trust and the national ambulance service for Wales.
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Published: Thursday, July 30, 2015