JULY was a busy month for our ambulance service. There is no getting away from that �– but there is also no getting away from the fact that every time the performance of our ambulance service is measured against the targets it is supposed to reach, it is found wanting.

For nine months in a row the ambulance service in Wales has missed these targets, which are designed to ensure ambulances reach urgent cases within as short a time as possible.

In Gwent we seem to have a long history of faring badly in the monthly statistics. We are not alone and it does seem as if across the country there are fundamental problems within the service.

We must emphasise that we are not criticising the frontline workers who staff the ambulances day in, day out. That does not seem to be where the problem lies.

In our view one of the most worrying issues is that despite a variety of reforms and management shake-ups and the like designed to solve this problem, there does not appear to have been any positive, sustained progress.

Questions which now surely have to be asked are have we got an ambulance service which is fit for purpose and has the Assembly set the service a series of unrealistic targets?

Asking patients to make their own way to hospital if they can is all well and good but will not tackle what we feel are more fundamental problems.