EMERGENCY ambulance response times varied considerably among council areas in Gwent during November, according to the latest figures.

Despite reductions in the number of category A emergency calls compared to the previous month, just 47 per cent of such calls in Torfaen were reached within the standard eight minutes, down from 51.6 per cent in October.

But in Blaenau Gwent, there was improvement in November to 61.1 per cent, against a 53 per cent performance in October.

The latest figures are released with the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust under the spotlight due to falling performance, and in the midst of a review into the organisation of services, based on geography, the links between emergency and non-emergency services, and links with services provided by health boards.

The decline in performance against response times targets is illustrated by the latest all-Wales result, for November, when 58.4 per cent of category A (immediately life threatening) calls were reached inside eight minutes. The all-Wales target is 65 per cent.

In December 2011, when a new system for measuring performance was introduced, the all-Wales figure was 64.8 per cent.

This decline is mirrored in Gwent, where the worst performances against the eight-minute response time in all five council areas have come in either October (Newport, Blaenau Gwent and Monmouthshire) or November (Torfaen and Caerphilly).

Newport, Blaenau Gwent and particularly Monmouthshire bounced back in November, but the worrying feature of the Torfaen and Caerphilly figures is that they worsened despite there being fewer category A emergency calls that month.

The review, ordered by health minister Lesley Griffiths, and headed by Siobhan McClelland, professor of health policy and economics at University of Glamorgan, is also looking at the effectiveness of the current funding of services - by health boards through the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee - and whether a new funding system is needed.

Current standards and targets are being appraised too, and options for improvement drawn up.

The Assembly reconvenes after the festive break next week, and some AMs, such as Torfaen's Lynne Neagle, who has been particularly bullish on the subject, are likely to demand a progress report.