If there was one essential moment from the first round of consultations over the future of Powys’ air ambulance base, it was the pledge from the man overseeing the whole consultation.

Stephen Harrhy, chief ambulance service commissioner for Wales, told a packed room in Welshpool: “If at the end of this review you are getting a worse service than the service you have got now then I have failed. And I don’t want to fail.”

Now the evidence is in, the analysts have done their work, and the data is there at our fingertips.

And it leads us to only one conclusion: Welshpool’s air ambulance base must stay.

This is not just a source of local pride – although lord knows that is a factor; the people of Powys wear the presence of an air ambulance base as a real mark of honour and the charity’s bosses are in no doubt about the contribution Powys makes to its cause.


But the evidence also proves that closing Welshpool and Caernarfon will have a negative effect on large swathes of mid and north Wales.

The overall effect of merging the bases on a single site near Rhyl, and adding an extra rapid response vehicle, would overall be positive. 

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But the evidence shows that it is almost precisely as effective to keep both Welshpool and Caernarfon’s flags flying – in fact the difference is so scant that the figures are well within the accepted margin for error, as Craig Williams MP rightly points out.

Not only that, but the figures also indicate that Ceredigion and Gwynedd – and we might assume by extension parts of western Powys – would be disadvantaged considerably by “consolidating” the bases.

Both counties would see response times increase, and the level of “unmet need” – the number of people who don’t get air support when they need it – would rise.

Optima, which analysed the data, said the preferred overall option would be to merge the sites – but said keeping both open and adding an extra vehicle would be a good plan B.

Looking at the impact on communities and not Wales as a whole, then surely Mr Harrhy’s promise to that packed hall in Welshpool has its answer.