I WELCOME the fact that the Health Minister, Lesley Griffiths, has announced a Ministerial Review into the Ambulance Service in Wales.

Serious management failures were exposed in this newspaper last month, after it emerged that a senior manager at the trust had been put up in a Cwmbran hotel over a four year period, and that Community First Responder posts were being advertised at higher rates of pay than rank and file ambulance staff receive.

Even more worryingly, after a period of relative stability, we've also seen a very serious dip in performance across Wales recently, with response time targets for the most serious, 'Category A' calls, missed in Torfaen for five months in a row.

But having been an Assembly Member for nearly fourteen years, I've seen several reviews into different aspects of the ambulance service come and go - so I can't help but feel like we've been here before.

Put simply, people are fed up with excuses and worthy reports that end up gathering dust on a shelf somewhere in Cardiff Bay. This review simply has to deliver the kind of long-term, root and branch change we need to see in the service.

We know that paramedics and ambulance staff do an absolutely first-class job, in what are more often than not incredibly tough circumstances, but they're consistently being let down by systematic failings, and they're not getting the support they need.

I will be meeting with ambulance staff locally in the New Year, so that I can listen to their views and feed them into the review process.

I'm also encouraging ambulance service staff or members of the public who want to share their experiences to ring my office on 01495 740022 or e-mail me at lynne.neagle@wales.gov.uk; and I intend to work with Unison and other trade unions who I know are already actively engaging with their members.

The New Year must mean a new start for the ambulance service in Wales.

I've already said publically that if this review is to make the difference we all want to see, above all there is a need to ensure the views, concerns, and expertise of those frontline staff are at the forefront - their voices must be heard loud and clear - so that they can get on with job of ensuring everyone in Wales has access to the first-class ambulance service they deserve.