AMBULANCE response times got worse across Gwent in December as the service struggled to cope with extra demand.
There were 3,030 category A (immediately life threatening) calls across the five Gwent council areas during the month, according to the latest figures, more than 500 up on November.
The surge in demand also coincided with a run of extremely wet weather, which made road conditions difficult for emergency crews.
The December figures make sobering reading across Gwent, with category A response performance in Caerphilly county borough down by eight per cent on the November figure, to just 46.5 per cent. And the fall compared to the December 2011 figure is even bigger, at 8.8 per cent.
In Blaenau Gwent, category A response performance was down to 50.1 per cent from 57.9 per cent in November, with similar declines recorded in Newport and Monmouthshire.
Only in Torfaen did performance improve in December, but that was by less than one per cent, to 47.8 per cent.
The category A response time target for individual areas is 60 per cent within eight minutes.
The ambulance service in Wales is undergoing a root-and-branch review covering funding, organisation, standards and targets, and a gradual decline in performance which began late last summer is of particular concern to the review team headed by Siobhan McClelland, professor of health policy and economics at the University of Glamorgan.