EMERGENCY ambulance response time performance improved across Gwent during October - but big differences in figures illustrate that the capability of the service to respond to demand remains volatile.

Performance against the eight-minute response time standard for category A emergency calls improved in all five Gwent council areas, compared to September.

But September had seen a dip in performance in all areas in Gwent with the exception of Caerphilly county borough, compared to August.

Wales-wide in October, for the first time in 16 months, the target of 65 per cent of category A calls being reached inside eight minutes was achieved, but only just, at 65.2 per cent.

For the Aneurin Bevan Health Board area the result was 62.8 per cent. This was the best performance for some time, but still equated to 1,000 of the 2,689 category A calls receiving a response at the scene outside the eight-minute target.

Continuing a long term trend, the ambulance service performed best in the Newport area during October, with 72.3 per cent of category A calls resulting in a response at the scene inside eight minutes. This was the fourth best of Wales' 22 council areas.

In Blaenau Gwent, the 60.4 per cent performance against the eight-minute standard was up from just 49.5 per cent, and in Torfaen, the 59.2 per cent performance was up from 49 per cent in September.

Performance was also up in Monmouthshire (58 per cent from 53.7 per cent) and in Caerphilly, though in the latter the 59.5 per cent result was just 0.1 per cent up.

The latest figures have been released at the same time as health minister Mark Drakeford announced that work is ongoing to develop new new "outcome driven delivery models."

That means that targets like the eight-minute category A emergency response for the ambulance service is to be replaced, along with others such as the four-hour A&E target and the 31-day and 62-day treatment targets for cancers.

Regarding the eight-minute ambulance target, he said that this is "only very weakly backed by clinical evidence as a measure of best outcomes for patients" a conclusion reached by the McClelland Review of ambulance services last spring.