A PATIENT having a suspected cardiac arrest had to wait more than three hours for an ambulance to attend, new figures showed.

More than 80 patients across Gwent waited more than an hour for an ambulance following a category A (immediately life threatening) call last year.

And some waited longer than two and three hours, with conditions including the suspected cardiac/ respiratory arrest, overdose/ poisoning, and chest pain.

The target response time to a call categorised as life threatening is eight minutes.

The figures, obtained by the Welsh Conservatives through a Freedom of Information (FOI) Act request, describe 262 instances across Wales of waits of more than an hour for an ambulance during 2012.

A third of these waits happened in Gwent, with 25 in Caerphilly, 19 in Newport, 17 in Blaenau Gwent, 15 in Monmouthshire, and 11 in Torfaen.

The Caerphilly figure was the third highest of Wales’ 22 council areas, behind Cardiff (42) and Rhondda Cynon Taf (37), with Newport’s 19 the fifth highest and Blaenau Gwent’s 17 the sixth highest.

A wait in Newport of five hours and 23 minutes from a GP for a patient admission through the high dependency service was the second-longest of all the waits of longer than an hour.

A category A call for a suspected cardiac/respiratory arrest, requiring a response from a hazardous area response team resulted in a wait of 3hr 3min.

A suspected overdose/poisoning in Caerphilly county borough had a response time of 2hr 20 min.

Several category A calls for chest pain are included in the list too, with a wait of 2hr 3min in Newport, and waits of 1hr 47min in Newport and Blaenau Gwent among the longest.

A review of the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust is ongoing following several months of deteriorating response times, with the Welsh Government’s target of 65 per cent of ambulances arriving at the scene within eight minutes not met since last May.

Shadow Minister for Health Darren Millar AM, whose party carried out the FOI request, called the figures ‘simply unacceptable’.

“Waiting an hour for an ambulance to arrive causes considerable distress to patients and their families, and could even cost lives,” he said.