20,000 calls did not need an immediate response

Tuesday, 03 March, 2015

The ambulance service in North Wales received more than 20,000 calls last year which didn't need an immediate response from an emergency ambulance, Deputy Minister for Health Vaughan Gething revealed last month during a visit to the service's control room in Llanfairfechan.

The control centre handles almost 10,000 calls a month via the 999 number and from healthcare professionals.

New figures released by the Welsh Government and Welsh Ambulance Service show that in North Wales alone one in six calls the Welsh Ambulance Service responded to could have been dealt with by another NHS service.

During the visit, the Deputy Minister spoke with call-handling staff and Dr Linda Dykes, a consultant in emergency medicine at Ysbyty Gwynedd to hear how a new clinical contact centre support service, based in the control room, is helping reduce unnecessary call-outs and avoidable hospital admissions.

Mr Gething said: "The Welsh Ambulance Service control room in Llanfairfechan handles 10,000 calls a month but the figures I'm able to reveal show that in the last year alone 20,000 of these didn't need an immediate response from an emergency ambulance. This is putting pressure on the ambulance service and ultimately putting lives at risk.

"The clinical contact centre's support service is a good example of how the Welsh NHS is adapting to meet the needs of patients and reducing pressure on busy emergency services. Its aim is to provide the care patients need where they need it, which isn't always from paramedics or at A&E. If people fall ill there is a range of options available to ensure they get the appropriate treatment they need.

"Nearly half of 999 calls in Wales last year didn't require an immediate response from a paramedic - an emergency ambulance is a precious resource, which should only be called in a genuine medical emergency and I urge the public to choose well.

"Our ambulance service staff work incredibly hard every single day to provide life-saving treatment to people right across Wales. Helping improve the performance of the emergency ambulance service is a top priority for us as a government. The £11m package of investment the Health Minister announced at the end of January is proof of that commitment."

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