AMBULANCE response times worsened across Gwent during December, with the area having four of the seven poorest results in Wales.

Blaenau Gwent had the worst figures for responses to category A emergency calls last month, with an ambulance or paramedic on the scene within the standard eight minutes on just 44.7 per cent of occasions.

In Caerphilly the eight-minute on-scene response rate was 48.8 per cent, the fourth worst of Wales’ 22 council areas. Torfaen (sixth worst) recorded 50.1 per cent, and Monmouthshire (seventh worst) recorded 52.8 per cent.

Overall, the ambulance service achieved the target response rate – a minimum 65 per cent of category A calls to be reached inside eight minutes – in just four council areas in Wales.

The figures prompted widespread criticism from opposition parties and a call by South Wales East AM William Graham for First Minister Carwyn Jones to make an urgent statement on the Welsh ambulance service.

The figures were a slight improvement on those for December 2012, and a Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust spokesman said the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust had “experienced increased pressure in December with unpredictable and ‘spikey’ demand causing random peaks in the number of acutely ill patients requiring an emergency response.”