Flintshire pensioners 11 hour ambulance wait highlighted as figures reveal ‘urgent call’ targets being missed
The Welsh Ambulance Service has reached its target for urgent calls in Flintshire for only one month this year after battling difficult winter pressures.
The service aims to reach a minimum of 65 per cent of patients with immediately life-threatening conditions, such as cardiac arrest and choking, within eight minutes.
However, figures presented to county councillors showed that March is the only month so far in which it achieved that goal at 65.5 per cent.
It came as one councillor highlighted an 11-hour ambulance wait faced by a 92-year-old woman in the area after suffering a fall.
On average ambulance crews got to 62.6 per cent of patients within eight minutes over the five months with the lowest performance figure of 60 per cent occurring in May.
Speaking at a meeting of the authority’s social and healthcare scrutiny committee today, North Wales Area Manager Andy Long said that ambulances left queuing outside hospitals had drawn vehicles out of the county causing longer waiting times.
Further statistics showed that the service lost approximately 500 hours because crews were left waiting to hand over patients outside Wrexham Maelor Hospital in just one week during the period.
He said: “On average we get to 70 per cent of immediately life-threatening calls in under eight minutes in North Wales, so we are certainly exceeding the target overall.
“The challenge for us in Flintshire in reaching the target is vehicles getting drawn out of the area into Wrexham and Bodelwyddan.
“You can see during winter that the number of hours we lost queuing outside emergency departments gets longer and longer.
“It would be wrong of me to say that we don’t lose hours outside the Countess of Chester Hospital, but it probably does work better for us there in terms of the way they work.
“We have now put in place a concerted response plan and put more resources into Flintshire.”
Meanwhile, Penyfordd councillor Cindy Hinds highlighted the wait faced by an elderly woman in the area
She said: “Yesterday I had a very apologetic letter about a 92-year-old lady who waited from around midday until 11pm at night for an ambulance and there was only one call during that time.”
The Trust’s Director of Operations Richard Lee, who was present at the meeting said the wait was ‘not what any of us want’ and that he would look into the case
Mr Lee, who was brought up in Gwernamynydd also said care homes where patients dial 999 for residents who fall, even when they don’t need an ambulance, can add to the strain put on the service.
He added that despite receiving 1,800 more calls in March 2018 compared to the previous year, its teams took 4,000 less patients to hospital where better care could be provided elsewhere.
He said: “It doesn’t sound right to me that someone who waited that length of time didn’t receive a call back and if you provide me with the details I will look into it.
“The changes we’re making to our falls service are about providing a better service for elderly patients.
“We now deal with a lot more frail people who have complex needs and North Wales actually has the lowest rate of conveyances to hospital of anywhere in the country.”
One initiative being introduced to improve response times in Flintshire is to base an advanced paramedic at Dobshill Ambulance Station under a scheme aimed at delivering enhanced care for patients closer to their homes.
Advanced paramedics are those who have gained additional education and training, and in most cases can assess and treat patients in the community, as well as attending life threatening calls.
Under a pilot scheme only 13 per cent of patients seen by the medics needed to be taken to hospital, freeing up the availability of ambulance crews to respond to others.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter
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