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“We need to address the problem here and now” ambulance staff shortage in NHS Wales

“Unfortunately, demand for services means that not every patient who calls 999 will be responded to by an Advanced Paramedic.”

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Ambulances have become quite the talking point over the past year, especially in the field of stroke, with category 2 call waiting times on the rise.

Now, NHS Wales find themselves under added pressure as they struggle for staff.

Speaking to the BBC, advanced paramedic Carwyn Lewis says: “The waiting times we’ve seen have been extraordinary, and it’s heartbreaking that some people have been on the floor 24 hours or more waiting for someone to help them out.

“It’s no-one’s fault, it’s just because of the volume of work.”

Speaking to SR Times, Katie Chappelle, Associate Director Wales, Stroke Association says: “An update and timeline for the Welsh Government’s NHS workforce plan is needed. 

“Addressing workforce is essential not only for emergency provision such as timely and effective ambulances and A&E provision but also specialist roles that support getting the right support early, for achieving effective rehabilitation and ensuring equal access to this across Wales.

We need to address the problem here and now, but also plan for future staffing to ensure that there is enough resource and planning to address all aspects of the stroke pathway, including prevention. The delivery of the Quality Statement for Stroke will be heavily influenced by both stroke-specific and the wider NHS workforce so it is important that Welsh Government act now to address this.

We want to stress despite the current workforce pressures, if you think you or someone you know is having a stroke you should call 999 as a stroke is a medical emergency. Acting FAST is the biggest and most important thing you can do to save a life and prevent severe disability from stroke.”

Consultant Connect, a health-tech communications provider, is working with ambulance services in Wales to help connect paramedics to consultants more efficiently, in the hopes to alleviate added pressure on the accident and emergency services.

Jonathan Patrick, CEO of Consultant Connect, says: “Unfortunately, demand for services means that not every patient who calls 999 will be responded to by an Advanced Paramedic. It is possible, though, to make sure that all paramedics have access to advice from senior hospital specialists and consultants to help them decide what to do with patients. This means patients can avoid unnecessary hospital visits or, if they do need to be taken to hospital, they can go directly to the correct department, avoiding further ambulance backlogs and strains on A&E.

“The Welsh Government uses Consultant Connect to make sure paramedics across the country have access to immediate advice from senior doctors. Paramedics make over 2,500 calls per month and are connected to specialists in an average of 30 seconds. About a third of patients avoid an unnecessary trip to hospital, releasing a huge amount of space and resource to help hospitals and ambulance services deal with this spike in demand. It is the most advanced advice service of its kind, and is yet another example of the NHS making pioneering use of technology to improve care for taxpayers.”

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