‘A busy day at the hospital’
EXTRA beds had to be opened up at Swansea’s Morriston Hospital yesterday to try to cope with an influx of patients and a line of waiting ambulances outside its A&E department.
At one point, around 10 ambulances were stacked up outside its main entrance waiting to hand over patients. Bosses at the 750-bed hospital also urged anyone without “an urgent condition” to stay away.
It came as figures also showed a record year for visits to A&E departments in Wales. New analysis by the BBC suggests hospitals in Wales are struggling to keep up with demand.
There are now regularly more than a million visits a year to Welsh urgent care departments – despite a population of just over three million.
And the numbers waiting more than four hours has jumped by more than two-thirds (67.5%) in four years.
Jeff Morris, operations manager for the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board area, said: “We can confirm that we’re experiencing a very busy day at Morriston Hospital and are working with hospital staff to prioritise patients with greatest clinical need and alleviate pressure.”
A spokeswoman for the health trust added: “Like health boards across the country, our emergency department is extremely busy. In the last 48 hours we have seen a much higher than usual number of critically ill patients with complex conditions, many of whom arrive by ambulance or in some cases by air ambulance.
“These patients, some of whom are in a life-threatening condition, are being seen and treated as a matter of urgency. This means those patients with less serious or nonurgent clinical symptoms or conditions can wait longer to be seen.
“We are doing all we can to reduce delays. We are working closely with colleagues from the ambulance service to ensure only patients who need to come to the department arrive by ambulance. In addition, we have opened extra beds and all available clinicians and nurses are seeing patients.
“We apologise to all our patients who are waiting longer than we would like and thank them and their families for their support.
The 750-bed hospital had similar problems on December 14 last year, when patients’ treatments were delayed as eight ambulances were stuck outside the hospital. That queue was caused by a surge in admissions of elderly people, according to health bosses.
A&E targets are identical across the UK – the services aim to treat and discharge, or admit or transfer, a patient within four hours in 95% of cases. In October of this year, only 71.8% of patients in Morriston Hospital were seen in under four hours.
In Wales, patients waiting more than four hours have increased by 67.5% in four years.
> Ambulances queue outside the A&E department at Morriston hospital yesterday