Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards has welcomed a commitment to invest in 41 new ambulances to help upgrade Wales’ 736-strong fleet.
However, while delighted by the investment, he said that the state of an ambulance vehicle has never been an issue for his constituents and said that more needed to be done to improve ambulance response times and waiting times in Accident and Emergency departments.
The Plaid Cymru MP is now asking Carmarthenshire residents for their views on a pilot scheme which has been introduced in other parts of Wales, where those who are able to, get taken into hospital by a taxi rather than an ambulance.
Mr Edwards said he was reserving judgement on the scheme for now, but would welcome the views of his constituents.
"Investment in new ambulances is always welcome, but no constituent of mine has ever complained to me about the quality of an ambulance, but rather the fact that they or a loved one have spent hours in that ambulance stuck outside A&E departments," he said.
“One of the most significant issues facing the Welsh Health Service is enabling paramedics to respond to life-threatening calls within the eight minutes - a target which has not been met in Wales for years. That said, I’m not yet convinced that sending patients into hospital by taxi – which is being piloted in south east Wales - is the right thing to do.
“In theory this would, of course, free up paramedics and ambulances to respond to more serious calls, but in practice I don't see what impact it would have on another significant issue that is waiting times within accident and emergency departments – targets for which have not been met for the last 18 months.
“Whether patients present at A&E from the back of a taxi or the back of ambulance, the deep rooted issue of waiting times is still there. Unless, of course, one of the intentions behind the pilot scheme is to discourage people from going to the hospital.
“Whilst welcoming the investment in the ambulance fleet, I would welcome the views of Carmarthenshire residents and Welsh Health Service staff on this taxi pilot scheme, and whether they believe it’s a scheme that could or should operate in the county."