A final report released today into the future of the Wales Air Ambulance has recommended the closure of the Welshpool base.

The review, which was conducted by the Chief Ambulance Services Commissioner for Wales Stephen Harrhy, says that both Caernarfon and Welshpool bases should be closed and merged into one North Wales base.

MP for Brecon and Radnorshire Fay Jones said she has fears about the “detrimental impact” the closure would have on rural Wales.

“I am incredibly disappointed to hear that the Welshpool Air Ambulance base is to close,” she said.

“Air ambulance is a vital service for our rural area, and I fear that concerns from constituents have been overlooked.

“Feedback has been provided to me from passionate fundraisers and supporters for the charity and I share their fear for the detrimental effect this will have on vital health support in rural Wales, but also over future financial assistance for the new base. 

“I hope that Powys Teaching Health Board reject this recommendation.”

James Evans, MS for Brecon and Radnorshire says the news has left him “extremely disappointed” and says the air ambulance has been the “difference between life and death” for some areas of his constituency.

Mr Evans said: “I am extremely disappointed that the Emergency Ambulances Services Committee will be closing the Air Ambulance base in Welshpool and moving it to North Wales despite continuously raising concerns that it would put my constituents at a disadvantage.

“As a rural area, we don’t have many of the things that people in more densely populated parts of Wales take for granted. I’ve heard horror stories from constituents of ambulance waiting times of up to 24 hours, and ambulances stuck outside A&E departments – in one case for over 25 hours. I’ve also heard many examples of where the air ambulance has been called out in agricultural accidents. In our areas where the road network is poor, the air ambulance is quite literally the difference between life and death.

“We are yet to hear how the problems created by closing the base will be solved, which is extremely concerning for everyone living in rural Wales.”

The news has also been met with criticism by Plaid Cymru politicians Liz Saville Roberts MP and Mabon ap Gwynfor MS who, in a joint statement, called it: “a disgraceful and short-sighted decision which will have far reaching implications for the safety of people across northwest and Mid Wales, not to mention the reputational damage it will inevitably cause the charity.”

They also said the decision is “a backwards step” in the delivery of emergency medical care across rural communities.

The report states: “Due to the predominance of feedback from the engagement process, stating that no change in the service bases would be optimal it is important to understand that the current high levels of unmet need, unequal and low levels of utilisation (including no-arrival days), lack of night time capacity and poor population coverage at night, mean that doing nothing is not an acceptable option.”

The four recommendations in the report are as follows:

Recommendation 1 – The Committee approves the consolidation of the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Services currently operating at Welshpool and Caernarfon bases into a single site in North Wales.

Recommendation 2 - The Committee requests that the Charity secures an appropriately located operational base in line with the findings of this Report.

Recommendation 3 - The Committee requires that a joint plan is developed by EMRTS and the Charity, that maintains service provision across Wales during the transition to a new base and that this plan is included within the Committee’s commissioning arrangements.

Recommendation 4 – The Committee approves the development of a commissioning proposal for bespoke road-based enhanced and/or critical care services in rural and remote areas.

The full report can be read online here.