AMBULANCE cover in Pembrokeshire is at ‘breaking point’ according to those on the frontline of emergency callouts.
A paramedic has spoken out about the fears and frustrations staff are facing working in Pembrokeshire and the inevitable further impact services changes at Withybush Hospital will have on ambulance cover.
Part of Hywel Dda University Health Board’s safety net includes a dedicated ambulance based at Withybush Hospital for those needing emergency transfer to Glangwili where consultant obstetric and neonatal care will be based from next month.
But it was revealed at last week’s Community Health Council that the ambulance is not yet fully staffed and recruitment is continuing.
Fearful of repercussions a paramedic has spoken to the Western Telegraph anonymously of crews’ morale being at rock bottom as they are stretched to their limit covering not just Pembrokeshire but also into the Carmarthen and Llanelli area.
The current situation has left them fearful that were a major incident the ‘seriously depleted’ service would not be able to cope and people would be at risk.
“It is putting Pembrokeshire in an almost third world ambulance service. Priority is being given to Carmarthen and Llanelli and we are being dragged out of county and that depletes Pembrokeshire’s resources.
“It’s getting to the point where people are getting so frustrated and going off with stress but they can’t cover the basic core shifts.
“The transfer ambulance looks like it’s going to be depleting day to day resources.
“We should have six ambulances on per day in Pembrokeshire, sometimes it’s seven some days we’re are down to four ambulances and that leaves areas uncovered. If people did know what was going on they would be shocked. Melt down is the right word for it, we are not far off,” he said.
“The only thing they can do is recruit more people and more ambulances. They have got to give us the resources without diminishing the emergency cover, it’s getting to the point where the ambulance service is at breaking point,” he said.
Rob Jeffery, the Trust’s Head of Service for Hywel Dda University Health Board area, paid tribute to the hard work of staff and added: “The dedicated ambulance vehicle commissioned by Hywel Dda University Health Board to transfer patients from Withybush General Hospital to Glangwili General Hospital and other specialist centres will be in addition to our existing establishment, and will be a ring fenced resource.
“Twelve new members of staff are being recruited to operate this vehicle, six of which have already been appointed, and the remainder of which will be appointed in the coming weeks.
“New starters appointed from outside of the organisation will undertake training before going operational, so it is likely that internal staff will operate the vehicle initially, supported by paramedic managers as and when required.
“Existing staff across the Trust will also be given the opportunity to apply for overtime which becomes available to resource this or any other Trust vehicle.
“We are committed to providing high-quality ambulance services as detailed in our ambitious modernisation programme, Working Together for Success, and make every effort to ensure a safe service is provided to the people of Wales."