Welsh Government told to ‘get a grip’ on NHS crisis as latest figures show long waits for A&E and ambulances
The Welsh Government has been told to “get a grip” on the NHS crisis as the latest performance figures show long waits for ambulances and A&E treatment.
Data published today shows around 50.5 per cent of the 14,290 patients who attended the three main A&E departments in North Wales spent less than the four hour target time to be seen, compared to the Welsh average of 66.4.
The emergency department at Wrexham Maelor Hospital recorded the worst figures with just 45.4 per cent seen during that timescale, compared to 48.4 per cent at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and 58.3 per cent at Ysbyty Gwynedd.
Targets state that 95 per cent of new patients should spend less than four hours in emergency departments from arrival until admission, transfer or discharge.
The Welsh Ambulance Service also responded to less than half (45.6 per cent) of the 787 immediately life-threatening calls in the region within the eight minute target time in June, compared to 50.8 per cent at an all-Wales level.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said: “Welsh Labour’s record on the NHS continues to be extremely poor.
“Many of the stats we have seen today are much worse than in England and Scotland.
“Significant delays in ambulance response times are due to backlogs at A&E departments resulting in patients having to wait in ambulances outside.
“What we need to see is real investment in primary health services in local communities, including our GPs to prevent these build-ups at emergency departments and to prevent people falling into such ill-health they require more advanced treatment.
“Welsh Labour needs to get a better handle of this crisis as soon as possible, waiting lists cannot continue to grow month after month.”
In June there were 3,728 red (life threatening) calls to the ambulance service across Wales, which represents 10 per cent of all calls and is high compared to historical figures.
Around 50.8 per cent of red calls received an emergency response within eight minutes nationally, which is low in historical context and below the target of 65 per cent.
There was also an average of 2,953 daily attendances to emergency departments in Wales, a slight increase in activity compared with the previous month.
Performance against the both the four and twelve hour targets decreased marginally when compared with May, they were the sixth and third lowest on record respectively.
The average (median) time spent in emergency departments also lengthened slightly in June, and was the joint-third longest on record, at three hours and two minutes.
Welsh NHS Confederation assistant director Nesta Lloyd-Jones said the performance figures were a sign of the rising demand on health services in Wales.
She said: “With high volumes of red (life threatening) calls to the ambulance service and more people attending emergency departments, it’s no wonder the NHS is creaking under these consistently high levels of pressure.
“We must remember that it’s not just high demand and unrelenting pressure on a whole system, but on individual teams and members of staff who give their all to help the people of Wales, day in day out.
“Therefore, funding for more frontline ambulance staff is only addressing part of the problem.
“Unless we can improve patient flow and speed up hospital discharge by alleviating the pressure on and creating capacity in social care, we’ll continue to see a large number of patients waiting longer than we’d like them to for both urgent and emergency care and planned care.
“These challenges may hinder the resilience of the NHS as Covid cases and Covid-related staff absences have risen over recent weeks, and as the challenges that health and care organisations face in summer increasingly look as difficult as those experienced in winter.”
It was announced today that a further £3m is to be invested by the Welsh Government to recruit more emergency ambulance staff to improve response times for the most seriously ill or injured.
The additional funding will enable the Welsh Ambulance Service to recruit around 100 additional frontline staff and introduce a new ‘Cymru High Acuity Response Unit’ (CHARU) service.
The CHARU service will seek to improve outcomes for people who have suffered cardiac arrest.
The government said pressures are being intensified by a range of factors including challenges with patient flow through the hospital system, as well as staffing constraints.
The additional emergency ambulance staff will be deployed in the areas which are under greatest pressure.
Commenting on the performance figures, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “There continues to be increased demand for emergency care and pressures are being intensified due to challenges with patient flow through the hospital system, as well as staffing constraints including a rise in COVID-sickness.
“In June, the proportion of all calls that were immediately life-threatening was 10 per cent, which is only the second time since a change to categorisation over three years ago.
“An additional 263 ambulance clinicians have been recruited over the last two years and today we have announced a further £3m to recruit around 100 additional frontline staff to support improved response times for the most critically injured and seriously ill for the winter period.
“A new ambulance improvement plan was also agreed by health board chief executives last week and we expect to see improvement in ambulance patient handover performance as a result.”
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