Wales’s ambulance service will not be required to make efficiency savings after a report said it was performing worse than services in other parts of the UK, it was announced today.
An efficiency review said the Welsh Ambulance Services Trust had made significant progress over the last three years, but still faced “some fundamental issues”.
“As a result, patients in Wales are not receiving a level of service that is commensurate with that achieved by other ambulance trusts elsewhere in the United Kingdom,” it said.
There had been a big improvement in the proportion of urgent calls reached within eight minutes, but little or no progress in meeting 14, 18 or 21-minute targets.
It blamed delays at hospitals for having a significant impact on the service’s ability to meet performance targets.
In a letter to Welsh Assembly members, health minister Edwina Hart said responsibility for commissioning ambulance services will pass from Health Commission Wales to local health boards next April.
“I expect the local health boards and Welsh Ambulance Services Trust to work together and secure further improvements in performance,” she said.
As an immediate step, Health Commission Wales has withdrawn a requirement for efficiency savings from the ambulance trust. Discussions were continuing about “how the remaining financial gap will be managed in the current year”, Ms Hart added.
Shadow health minister Andrew Davies welcomed the move towards local commissioning.
“I am also pleased the minister has finally recognised the tight financial situation the ambulance trust was forced to work in,” he said.