THE final report into the future of the Wales Air Ambulance services has recommended that its Caernarfon base be closed.

A new merged base in Rhuddlan has been recommended in the report, in place of the Caernarfon and Welshpool sites, which it also suggests closing.

Following publication of this report by the Emergency Ambulance Services Committee (EASC) today (March 13), the heads of Wales’ health boards will vote on the matter on March 19.


Caernarfon man charged with domestic violence offences

Menai Bridge firm's warning, almost half of UK adults not written will

Rhun ap Iorwerth, MS for Ynys Môn, has labelled the recommendation “short-sighted”.

He said: “This short-sighted decision will be to the detriment of patient and public safety and may put more lives at risk.

“The importance of safeguarding the future of both bases cannot be overstated and those in hard-to-reach rural areas will be rightly concerned on hearing today’s news.

“Whilst I appreciate that every service must review their operations and consider how to be more efficient in future, it must never lead to the downgrading of current provision.

“Plaid Cymru’s call to keep both bases in Caernarfon and Welshpool open and introduce an rapid response vehicle) in the northeast was accepted in Phase 2 of the consultation as one of the best options for the long term future of the service.

“All options must be considered in challenging this decision.”

The report says that the review process has “clarified the need for the service to develop and enhance the access, effectiveness and efficiency of the service across Wales”.

It claims that this is particularly relevant to night hours, as roughly 530,000 of the North Wales population do not have access to an aircraft within 60 minutes after 8pm.

In addition, the report acknowledges that the feedback process received multiple statements that no change in the service bases would be optimal.

Liz Saville Roberts and Mabon ap Gwynfor, MP and MS for the Dwyfor Meirionnydd constituency respectively, have also criticised the recommendation to shut the Caernarfon and Welshpool bases.

In a joint statement, they said: “This is a disgraceful and short-sighted decision which will have far reaching implications for the safety of people across northwest and mid Wales, not to mention the reputational damage it will inevitably cause the charity.

“People have donated thousands of pounds to the Wales Air Ambulance on the understanding that it provides a timely emergency medical response to communities across northwest and mid-Wales.

“This decision is a backwards step in the delivery of emergency medical care across our rural communities - driven by questionable data and a flawed consultation process.

“The Welsh Labour government had the ability and ample opportunity to influence and to intervene in this process but chose to say nothing.

“There has been no recognition of the real concerns expressed by our constituents and no representation has been made by government to ensure that the Wales Air Ambulance continues to serve all parts of the country equally.

“The air ambulance is the difference between life and death in many rural areas across Wales such as Meirionnydd, Pen Llyn, the north of Ceredigion, Ynys Môn, and Maldwyn - in areas already compromised by lengthy ambulance wait times.

“The service offered by both Caernarfon and Welshpool air ambulance bases are vital and it is immensely regrettable that rural Wales looks set to suffer the consequences of a centralised base in north-east Wales.

“Every option must now be explored by campaigners to challenge this decision, including the possibility of a judicial review.”

The report says: “It is important to understand that the current high levels of unmet need, unequal and low levels of utilisation, lack of night time capacity and poor population coverage at night, mean that doing nothing is not an acceptable option.”

Neither base would close until 2026 as the contract for each has been extended until then.