Debate takes place in the Senedd today as politicians call for two air ambulance bases to be kept open
A debate will take place in the Senedd today calling on the Welsh Government to keep open Air Ambulance bases in two locations and not centralise services at a single location in north Wales.
The Welsh Conservative Party is calling for the retention of air ambulance bases in Welshpool and Caernarfon, despite plans to close them.
The proposal, made by the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service and the charity, prompted more than 20,000 people to sign petitions in support of keeping the bases open.
The Shadow Health Minister for Wales and Montgomeryshire MS, Russell George, said: “We recognise the vital work of the Welsh Air Ambulance, as do all those who live in North and Mid Wales, which is why we are deeply concerned about the prospect of services being reduced and moved further away due to decisions made by the Labour-run NHS.”
George highlighted that the regions in question have large populations of older people, poor road networks, and a lack of large hospitals, as well as scenic areas that attract tourists for activities such as climbing and hiking.
He argues that reducing the number of bases would be detrimental in areas where the need for air ambulance services is higher.
Rural communities rely heavily on the service, as travelling by road can take significantly longer.
The use of helicopters can cut travel time to hospitals by two-thirds, particularly important as 597 of the call-outs in 2021 were for cardiac arrests and heart-related issues requiring immediate attention.
The debate comes at a time when ambulance response times in Wales are the slowest on record, with fewer than 50% of red-call ambulances arriving within the eight-minute target.
Key points raised by the public in the petitions include:
• People are already feeling excluded from many public services due to living in a rural setting, and this only increases the sentiment;
• Many are concerned that their limited road network is not sufficient to ensure appropriate transfers from incidents to emergency care; and
• There is a lack of adequate emergency health facilities within the region , with many commenting how their nearest A&E is an hour away by road.
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