Morale Soars As Ambulance Chief Achieves 999 Targets

The latest chief executive of the beleaguered Welsh Ambulance Service has been praised for putting the service on the road to recovery. Ambulance Today described Alan Murray’s achievements at the ailing service as “remarkable” – he has been in post for just eight months.

And the UK-wide magazine said Mr Murray had presided over “palpable improvements” and a “remarkable boost in morale”. The Welsh Ambulance Service responded to 74.8% of life-or-death emergency 999 calls in eight minutes last week – the target is 60%.

So far this month the service, which last year had the worst response times in Britain, has reached 65% of category A calls within eight minutes, its best performance since 2001.

Writing in Ambulance Today, the editor, Declan Heneghan, said, “The improvement to date underlines the remarkable speed with which Mr Murray and his senior management team have been addressing the underlying problems which the Welsh Ambulance Service faced when he joined it last summer.

“I have followed the development of the Welsh Ambulance Service very closely and, like many others involved in the UK ambulance scene, I have recognised the huge challenges faced by its managers and staff.

“I very much want to express the admiration which I feel for Mr Murray and all of the staff for the improvements that have been identified and implemented in just 10 months. I routinely liaise with staff in all areas of the service on behalf of Ambulance Today and, alongside the palpable improvements that have been achieved, the single thing that stands out to me is the remarkable boost in morale which the staff tell me they are experiencing on a day-to-day basis.

“Having staff that look forward to their next shift and the challenges it will bring them is vital to the success of high-quality patient-care. For the first time in a long time this is the feedback that I and many others are receiving from staff across Wales.”

Mr Murray is regarded as one of the world’s foremost ambulance service experts and has worked as a senior consultant in America, Canada, India, the Middle East and New Zealand. He has also advised more than half the ambulance trusts in England and before coming to Wales he led the revival of the ailing Merseyside Ambulance Service.

Mr Murray said, “While achieving the Welsh Assembly Government [response time] target is an important milestone, it is just the beginning of our task. My previous experience of recovery programmes has been that improvement may be fragile in the early stages.

“Our objective is to provide clinically effective responses to life threatening and serious emergencies in all parts of Wales. This is more difficult to achieve than headline improvements, but we will not rest until we have achieved it.”

Stuart Fletcher, who took over as chair of the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust a year ago, said, “Alan has done a really excellent job and has been hugely impressive. Under his leadership, we have made massive progress. That is down to the new management team and the board have been very supportive.”