GOVERNMENT figures have revealed that under half of ambulances responded to calls across Barry and the Vale before the eight-minute target.

Vale MP Alun Cairns said just 48.9 per cent of ambulances met the deadline in June this year – falling from 56.1 per cent in June 2013 and from 66.8 per cent in June 2012.

Mr Cairns has campaigned for improved ambulance cover, highlighting a number of local cases where a delayed response could have been a matter of life or death.

He recently worked a night shift with the police in Barry, and saw an urgent ambulance call that took one hour and five minutes to arrive.

Mr Cairns said: “Ambulance targets in Wales have been missed 21 months of the last 22, while response times here in Barry and Vale raise serious concerns. The chances of survival for a patient requiring emergency treatment are dramatically improved if the right care can be given quickly and too many patients in the Vale are not getting seen quickly enough.

“During my night shift with South Wales Police, I witnessed that despite the tremendous efforts of the staff at the ambulance control room and the paramedics, ambulance waiting times need to be drastically improved. At one incident I attended it took one hour and five minutes for the ambulance to arrive. This was an outrageous risk to the individual concerned as their health deteriorated in the time. In addition there was the loss of resource to the community – three police officers were tied up waiting. More needs to be done to support the paramedics and hospital staff to allow them to do their job to the best of their ability.

“That is unacceptable and again these figures show little is being done to improve the situation. Whereby in the whole of Wales, only 54.1 per cent of ambulances arrived at the scene within eight minutes, England managed 74.4 per cent. It is therefore clear that urgent action must be taken by the Health Minister to tackle the issue.

“I will continue to press the matter with the Welsh Government. This cannot continue.”

Mike Collins, the trust’s director of service delivery, said: “The Welsh Ambulance Service took 35,570 calls in June, up by 1,699 calls from the same period last year and of these calls 14,167 were of the most serious in nature, up by 839 calls from the same time last year.

“We recognise that on occasion we fall short of the eight-minute target but are working, and will continue to work, as hard as we can to get to patients as quickly as possible.

“We have been working closely with our Local Health Board colleagues to reduce the delays in handing patients over to the care of the hospitals throughout Wales and we have seen real advancement. However, we believe there is still room for significant further improvement.

“Our staff are making every possible effort to deliver safe and high quality healthcare and services to the people of Wales, and for this they must be commended.”