Sunday, June 25, 2006

Ambulance Crisis in Montgomeryshire

It would be easy to forget, amidst all the furore over the NHS Welsh Ambulance Trust, that the men and women who staff our ambulance stations are doing a sterling job and that they themselves are as much concerned about the conditions they are having to work in as we, the general public, are.

Since May I have visited one of the ambulance stations (Llanfyllin) which was highlighted last weekend on three separate occasions to talk to the crew and on each occasion was struck by their expertise and by their commitment to their job. However they are being asked to work under conditions which both the NHS Welsh Ambulance Trust and the Powys Local Health Board deem unacceptable.

The station is closed completely between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. each morning during which time the local on-call firemen, who have been trained as First Responders, provide First Aid though not paramedic cover. However, if at any time the ambulance from Welshpool is called out the Llanfyllin ambulance crew has to take their vehicle to Welshpool leaving the whole of north east Montgomeryshire, including the accident blackspot of Pistyll Rhaeadr, without any emergency vehicle cover at all.

It is no wonder that the rural target time of 18 minutes for emergency response by ambulances is being missed so often but it is no fault of our dedicated crews. Brian Gibbons, the Labour Assembly Health Minister, needs to get to grips with this situation and stop treating those of us who choose to live in the countryside as second-class citizens.

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