DRAMATIC improvements in emergency ambulance response times have been maintained in many parts of Gwent, though Monmouthshire continues to lag well behind the target.

Figures for September indicate that big improvements recorded in Torfaen and Newport during August have been built upon, while performance against the eight-minute response time for category A emergencies has also improved in Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly.

In Torfaen, new emergency response staff, two new vehicles, and three teams of community responders are helping transform emergency responses in an area where less than a year ago, fewer than two-in-10 category A calls were reached inside eight minutes.

These innovations appear to be having a knock-on effect in surrounding areas, though in Monmouthshire, despite performance being slightly better than earlier in the year, there remains much room for improvement.

In Torfaen in September, 69 per cent of category A calls were reached inside eight minutes. In August, it was 62 per cent, itself a big improvement on the July figure of 41 per cent.

In Newport, 71.4 per cent of emergency calls were reached inside eight minutes in September, building on improvements since a July performance of just 53.3 per cent.

Emergency response in Blaenau Gwent was 71 per cent too, all three areas above the all-Wales target that 65 per cent of category A calls be reached inside eight minutes, with performance Caerphilly approaching the target level.

More than 4,100 emergency calls were received during September from Newport, Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly.

Communications systems are being upgraded to include automatic vehicle location, data transfer between emergency vehicles, and long-overdue satellite navigation for rapid response vehicles.

Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust chief Alan Murray told Torfaen councillors earlier this week, that with handover times at the Royal Gwent Hospital also being treated as a priority, he hopes the improvements will be maintained and increased.