Taffy Gets Toasted

Alan Murray: getting ready for the spit roast.

Our Welsh colleagues have been quiet for too long (about 4 months I think) so it’s high time the Welsh Ambulance Service were brought kicking and screaming back into the spotlight for a periodic roasting. The man on the spit this time is Alan Murray, the latest chief executive. He’s not doing too badly by current Welsh Ambulance standards: (insane) Thayne lasted 2 months as did Dr Anton van Dellen so 4 months in the hot seat is good going.

Thayne reckoned the service was “in crisis” and that he “could not work for a service he felt ashamed of”. Which means the unions told him they weren’t having any of his army pals lording it over everyone nor any of his hocus-pocus response time accounting down in the valleys. Dr van Dellen probably got sea-sick going up and down the mountains and yearned for the flat lands of Holland. Anyway, Mr Murray is still at the helm and now has to face the Christmas turkey shoot as the service’s response times are announced. To put it bluntly (or in Welsh) they’re shite!!

The BBC has the usual dramatic headline: Ambulance response failures rise. Note the emotive language.

A greater number of ambulances in Wales are missing targets for reaching the most serious incidents within eight minutes, according to official figures. Between July and September, 54% made the eight-minute target – a fall from 57%. recorded in the previous quarter.

The assembly government said the Welsh Ambulance Service was experiencing “unprecedented demand” [and they wonder why] in life-threatening Category A cases, just 54.2% achieved the eight-minute target.

The Welsh assembly backed Mr Murray: “The present levels of performance are not good enough. This is why root and branch modernisation is needed.”

Well that’s helpful.

If you’re thinking of buying a second home in Wales you might want to avoid Monmouthshire – Sir Fynwy (I had to look it up. I think I went there once; it was closed. Boom, boom!) According to the story on the icWales web-site:

People living in Monmouthshire are on the receiving end of the worst response times in Wales – only 37.8% of category A calls were answered in eight minutes.

Have a look at the map, it’s mostly rural villages. The blighters don’t stand a chance of hitting their ‘A’ cat times, and that’s with 33 first responder schemes – source 2005/2006 annual report.

The result of a public inquiry by Wales’ auditor general into the state of the Welsh Ambulance Service is due out next week. We await its publication with bated breath.

It’s going to tell us the service is “in crisis”.


6 Responses to Taffy Gets Toasted

  1. And SD is over there in the middle of it all..

  2. ecparamedic says:


  3. ecparamedic says:

    Like Mag says, look at the geography. Distances as the crow flies aren’t all that far in many instances, it’s the hills getting in the way that spoil it.

    It’s a crazy situation where a rural trust that is challenged geographically is judged against the same targets as metropolitan services with a choice of hospitals to access.


  4. kevinmillhill says:

    In Scotland, rural areas are well resourced, ambulance-wise; you just can’t do anything about the geography. Many rural ambulances are actually untasked for well over 80% of the time, so the answer is not the usual urban one of “throw more crews and vehicles at it”. In fact, the answer is that there is no answer. The only ORCON standard rural crews have a hope in hell of hitting is the “mobilisation” one – and that’s out of the window if you happen also to work on call.

    With a bit of staff-led cleverness, we have managed locally to drag our CatA (8min) compliance from 24.3% 2 years ago to about 36% currently, and that’s about as good as we can ever make it. After that, you’re up against the picturesque geography – hills, rivers, farm tracks, and roads which all take the tourist route.

    We have a major motorway as well which – with 20-30 miles between exits – brings its own problems. Although the accident is just 25 miles north of us – to get to it, (because it happens to be on the Southbound carriageway) we have to go 35 miles UP the motorway to the exit north of the accident, then 10 miles back DOWN again to reach the locus. The computer is not briefed to understand that the station 30 miles north of the locus is actually “closer” than we are

    However, we are judged on our performance as a national service, and a good week in Glasgow (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms) probably balances ten years’ worth of lengthy responses in Arrochar, Tighnabruaich, Inverary, Bettyhill, Tain, Golspie, Killin, Ballater, etc, etc. Right at the moment, though, we’re rather struggling with Glasgow!

    I believe that the answer is compulsory relocation of the entire Scottish population – and its ambulance stations – to the area between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde, along with an order banning movement out of this area. Then nobody will ever be more than 8 minutes from an ambulance

  5. relocation moving local state international

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