THE review of the Welsh ambulance service announced earlier this month must address the "systematic failures" that have affected its performance in parts of Gwent for many years, says Torfaen AM Lynne Neagle.

Performance against the eight-minute response target for emergency calls fell again across Wales during October, with Gwent hard hit.

Three of the service's five worst performances based on Wales' 22 council areas were in Gwent. In Torfaen, 51.6 per cent of category A emergencies were reached inside eight minutes, with Monmouthshire (52.6 per cent) and Blaenau Gwent (53 per cent) also suffering.

Performance also fell in Caerphilly (56.4 per cent) and Newport (60.4 per cent), though most parts of Wales experienced a fall.

The figures are the latest bad news for a service under the spotlight over issues such as the £65,000 bill for putting up two senior managers at a Gwent hotel, one for four years, which was exclusively revealed by the Argus.

Performance against the emergency response time target has been deteriorating for some months, Ms Neagle said enough is enough.

“Given the long-running battle I’ve fought for improvements to the local ambulance service, I’m deeply concerned that response time targets in Torfaen have been missed for the fifth month in a row, especially with winter just around the corner," she said.

"The recently announced ministerial review, while welcome, must be used to urgently get a grip of the systematic failures that have blighted the ambulance service locally for the best part of a decade.”

South Wales East regional AM William Graham raised the issue in the Assembly yesterday, highlighting that in the 33 months since January 2010 the eight-minute response time target has been achieved for just 10 months in Torfaen and for only nine months in Monmouthshire.