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Ambulance service misses its targets.

ALMOST half of all emergency ambulances failed to reach critically ill patients within eight minutes.

Figures for December show the Welsh Ambulance Service's performance dipped below the 60% Welsh target for life-or-death 999 calls.

The service blamed winter pressures for the all-Wales category A response time figure falling to 55.9%.

But the figure hides a wide variation in performance times - from 76.2% of the most serious emergency calls reached within eight minutes in Swansea to just 41.7% in Powys.

The Welsh Conservatives said the disparity was evidence of a postcode lottery.

Jonathan Morgan, the Shadow Health Minister, said, "It is extremely worrying that ambulances are still failing to meet the Assembly Government's emergency response time targets.

"It is also a matter of great concern that these figures highlight a clear postcode lottery in response times."

Jenny Randerson, the Welsh Liberal Democrats' health spokeswoman, said, "These figures are worrying. Despite recent improvements, the figures are beginning to look like a down ward trend, particularly in South-East Wales."

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokeswoman said, "We are working in partnership with other NHS trusts and local health boards to deal with the seasonal pressures which have affected the whole of the NHS.

"A number of measures are now in place to manage these pressures more effectively in the future. This includes the introduction of the 15-minute turnaround time target from April for ambulances at A&E units."
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 21, 2008
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