A&E units face ‘cri­sis’ with pres­sures all year round

Cynon Valley - - NEWS -

HOS­PI­TAL ac­ci­dent and emer­gency de­part­ments in Wales are fac­ing a “deeply wor­ry­ing cri­sis”, with pres­sures be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced all year round rather than just in win­ter, it is claimed.

New Welsh Gov­ern­ment sta­tis­tics which looked at the state of Welsh A&Es found that there were 1,003,710 at­ten­dances to A&E de­part­ments in 201617 – an av­er­age of 2,750 a day and three a day more than in 2015-16.

Some 81.9% of pa­tients spent less than four hours in these units from ar­rival un­til ad­mis­sion, trans­fer or dis­charge, miss­ing the tar­get of 95%.

And at the other end of the scale, the report found that 33,834 pa­tients spent longer than 12 hours in A&E de­part­ments in 201617 – 5,818 (21%) more than the pre­vi­ous year.

It was also 22,332 more than when the fig­ures were first recorded in 2013-14.

The report revealed there were more at­ten­dances to ca­su­alty in the sum­mer months, with the most daily at­ten­dances in May 2016 (2,917) and the least in De­cem­ber 2016 (2,521).

But it is claimed that staff are still more stretched in the win­ter months due to the amount of frail and el­derly pa­tients who are ad­mit­ted with mul­ti­ple ill­nesses and con­di­tions.

Shadow Health Min­is­ter An­gela Burns pre­dicted that the fig­ures for 2017-18 are likely to be even worse.

She said: “This is no longer about win­ter pres­sures or sea­sonal dif­fi­cul­ties – Welsh A&E units are now ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a pro­tracted and deeply wor­ry­ing cri­sis.

“This report sug­gests that more pa­tients than ever are now spending more than 12 hours in A&E, and it’s hard to find any­one who thinks that the pic­ture for 2017-18 won’t be even worse.

“Labour min­is­ters, working with NHS chiefs, need to show much more in­no­va­tive think­ing in how it tack­les the cri­sis af­fect­ing our emer­gency ser­vices, and this begins with re­view­ing its risk man­age­ment pro­ce­dures.

“Surely open­ing an ex­tra bed on a ward is less risky than leav­ing a des­per­ately ill pa­tient to lan­guish in A&E for 12 hours.”

The health board with the high­est to­tal at­ten­dances in 2016-17 was Betsi Cad­wal­adr, while the health board with the high­est daily rate of at­ten­dances com­pared to their pop­u­la­tion was Cwm Taf.

The Welsh Gov­ern­ment says the vast ma­jor­ity of pa­tients are con­tin­u­ing to re­ceive timely, pro­fes­sional care.

Health Sec­re­tary Vaughan Gething said: “None of the chal­lenges we face are unique to Wales – the dif­fer­ence is in our ap­proach to meet­ing those chal­lenges. We pro­vided an ad­di­tional £10m to NHS Wales in Jan­uary 2018 in recog­ni­tion of the ex­cep­tional level of de­mand for health ser­vices.

“A fur­ther £10m was pro­vided in Fe­bru­ary to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to en­able peo­ple to re­main in their homes or re­turn from hos­pi­tal to their com­mu­nity more quickly.

“De­spite sus­tained cuts to our fund­ing by the UK Gov­ern­ment, our in­vest- ment in the Welsh NHS has never been higher, with spend per per­son in­creas­ing faster here in 2016-17 than in the rest of the UK.”

He added: “We have also in­vested at record lev­els in the NHS work­force. We re­cently an­nounced a £100m fund to trans­form the way health and social ser­vices are de­liv­ered in Wales to en­sure the NHS is fit for the fu­ture.”

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