Private ambulance use 'props up NHS'.
PRIVATE ambulances are being used to help provide emergency services at the weekends, the Welsh Government has said.
The Welsh Government said the use of private providers was a "short term" solution to mitigate pressures on ambulances, with the Welsh Conservatives uncovering figures showing private or independently-run vehicles were used at the weekends some 1,734 times between January and October.
The bulk were seen in the Cardiff and Vale and Aneurin Bevan health board areas - 588 and 558 times respectfully - according to a response from the Welsh Ambulance Services Trust under the Freedom of Information Act.
Mr Millar said: "The minister need only look at these figures to see that the independent sector is already being used to prop up weekend cover right across Wales.
"As the person in charge of the NHS, he must clarify whether he knows this is the case and - crucially - whether he supports it. Welsh Conservatives do not oppose use of the independent sector where required - but a longer-term strategy is now desperately required." A Welsh Government spokesman said: "Like other parts of the UK, demands on the emergency ambulance service in Wales are significant at present and using private providers is a short term solution to mitigate this pressure.
"In order to meet demand and maintain focus on patient safety, the ambulance services trust has used a small number of private ambulance providers to support delivery in the South East Wales region over recent weekends. We continue to take a practical approach, using private ambulances where necessary to provide a service to patients."