First Minister forced into apology over 13-hour ambulance wait for stroke victim
Mark Drakeford was made to apologise to a pensioner who had to wait over half a day for an ambulance to arrive after he suffered a stroke following pressure from the Welsh Conservatives during First Minister’s Questions.
The questions from Paul Davies MS came following news that an 85 year-old man from Mountain Ash had to wait 13 hours for an ambulance after suffering a stroke, leading to fears by his family that he might never fully recover.
David Evans was at his home in late October when he had a stroke, with the first call to emergency services made at 6:45pm. The ambulance did not arrive until 7:45am the following morning.
Ambulance red-calls are reserved for life-threatening emergencies and do not include strokes among them. The Labour Government have set a target of 65% of red calls reaching the scene within eight minutes. There is no target for amber or green calls.
Asked by Mr Davies whether he would consider targets for amber calls the First Minister, who admitted such waits are “not acceptable”, refused.
Paul Davies repeated Welsh Conservative calls for regional surgical hubs in a Covid light-environment as a way to address the enormous backlog that has built up since last February.
It was pointed out to Mark Drakeford that his government presides over an NHS backlog where the number of patients waiting over 36 weeks for treatment has exploded from just under 26,000 to 244,000 during the pandemic, an increase of nearly 1000%.
Such waits have forced people to travel abroad so they can get treatment quicker and not suffer longer. This has all been exacerbated, according to Senedd Conservatives, by the 30% cut in NHS beds since Labour came to power in 1999 and the current 3,000 unfilled staff vacancies in the Welsh NHS.
Commenting afterwards, Paul Davies MS said:
“I am pleased to hear the First Minister express remorse for the suffering that has occurred in the NHS and ambulance service under his watch, but while apologies are important, urgent action to prevent similar cases arising in future is the goal people desire.
“The ambulance service is in crisis and to address it we need to solve problems in other areas of the NHS. This means a campaign to increase knowledge and encourage use of minor injury units as well as finally acting on our long-term calls for regional surgical hubs to address the huge NHS backlog.
“Wales is once again heading into winter with a health service on the brink. We do not want to be here again next year asking for another apology for another awful case. Labour must finally act and address a problem that has become endemic in our public services over the last 22 years.”