Council backs motion calling for increased ambulance cover

Support has been given to a campaign to save and improve ambulance services in Powys, by a councillor who has first-hand experience of the need for fast responses to emergency calls.

Welsh Wales ambulance stock
Welsh Wales ambulance stock

At a Powys County Council meeting on Thursday, councillors discussed a motion put forward by Plaid Cymru Councillors Elwyn Vaughan and Bryn Davies.

They wanted the council to back a call for all ambulance stations in Powys to be manned 24 hours.

This would mean extending the ambulance station hours at Llanidloes and Llanfyllin to be 24 hours, along with a call to safeguard Machynlleth Ambulance Station and provide extra ambulances for Newtown and Welshpool.

As they unveiled their campaign at the start of the month the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust confirmed that they were reviewing their resources in Powys.

Conservative Cllr Diane Jones-Poston who represents Llanbrynmair, said: “I recognise that councillors and councils don’t have direct control, or responsibilities for the management or running of the ambulance service.

“I support the motion and the concerns.

“Not only for the residents of the Dyfi Valley but for the whole of Powys and also from a personal position as well.

“Some members would be aware that my father sadly died last year from a sudden and unexpected heart attack.

“It took the ambulance over and hour to get to the scene.”

Cllr Jones-Poston said the ambulance was on its way back from Aberystwyth on the A44 road which goes through Llangurig when the emergency call came through.

When the ambulance reached Llanbrynmair, more than an hour had elapsed since the emergency call had been made.

Cllr Jones-Poston said: “We will not know if the outcome could have been different, but it may have been if another ambulance had been in the vicinity at the time or even at one of the stations, of Machynlleth, Newtown or Llanidloes.

“In any emergency, speed of response is absolutely critical, often referred to as the golden hour.

“Any cut to the service will have dire and tragic consequences to response times and to saving lives.”

She believed that any influence of support the council could give added weight to other voices looking to discuss properly resourcing and funding the ambulance service with the Welsh Government.

“So that no other family has to go through this experience," said Cllr Jones-Poston.

Cllr Bryn Davies, who seconded the proposal had said that in recent weeks it had taken ambulances four hours to arrive on scene to treat two of his elderly neighbours who had been injured in falls.

Conservative group leader, Cllr Aled Davies said: “It is not for us to decide how resources are spent by the ambulance service, that is a matter for them to decide with the Welsh Government.”

“We’d all like excellent services in our own back yard 24/7, but I will not be voting for it, it’s not our responsibility.”

He pointed out that Plaid Cymru votes had helped the last Labour led administration get their budget passed and wondered if they could “divert some resource” to the ambulance service.

The motion was approved with 40 votes for, three against and six abstentions.

Sonia Thompson, interim assistant director of operations ambulance response at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “We’re aware of concerns in Mid Wales about ambulance availability, which we believe to be borne out a trust-wide piece of work we’ve begun to reconfigure our rosters.

“Recently we undertook a ‘demand and capacity’ review to identify the resources we need to meet predicted and future demand, and as a result, a roster review is now underway to ensure that our resources are best placed to meet that demand.

“This means that ambulance rosters in Wales, including in Powys, will be subject to a review so we can be confident we have the right resources in the right place, at the right time.

“Roster reviews are complex and sensitive and we’re working closely with colleagues, Trade Union partners and Powys Teaching Health Board to navigate this work and reach an agreement which we believe is the most appropriate.

“We’ll also be engaging directly with Powys County Council members to allay any concerns they have.

“In the meantime, recruitment to our frontline is continuing in earnest; our efforts from this year and last have meant an uplift of 260 people into the service so far.

“We were very sorry to hear of Cllr Diane Jones-Poston’s bereavement last year, and our Putting Things Right team will be reaching out directly to Cllr Jones-Poston to learn more about her father’s experience.”

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