N Wales A&E units have worst wait­ing log­jams on record

Bangor Mail - - NEWS - LY­DIA MOR­RIS

HOS­PI­TAL A&E de­part­ments in North Wales saw their worst wait­ing times on record last month.

Fig­ures pub­lished by the Welsh Government show the per­cent­age of pa­tients in the Betsi Cad­wal­adr Univer­sity Health Board (BCUHB) area seen within the four-hour tar­get dropped from 73% in De­cem­ber to 68% in March - the low­est in Wales.

It comes as North Wales’ A&E de­part­ments saw an increase of al­most 5% in the num­ber of pa­tients com­ing through the doors in March, com­pared to De­cem­ber last year.

The data also shows that just over 11% of peo­ple who at­tended emer­gency de­part­ments in North Wales last month spent longer than 12 hours in A&E – a 42% increase from last De­cem­ber.

The num­ber of pa­tients wait­ing 12 hours or more in Wales as a whole is at its high­est, and is 141% higher than March last year.

Health Sec­re­tary Vaughan Gething said the fig­ures re­flected the second busiest pe­riod from Jan­uary to March at emer­gency de­part­ments on record, fol­low­ing one of the busiest win­ters on record.

As a re­sult, emer­gency de­part­ments across the re­gion saw “very high” lev­els of flu and el­derly ad­mis­sions, he said.

“De­spite ex­pe­ri­enc­ing one of the busiest win­ters on record, in the vast ma­jor­ity of cases NHS Wales has de­liv­ered timely, pro­fes­sional care to pa­tients,” said Mr Gething.

“The ex­treme weather in early March also made it ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for our NHS to op­er­ate, which has clearly had an ef­fect on wait­ing times in emer­gency de­part­ments across Wales.

“We have in­vested an ad­di­tional £20m over the win­ter to help health boards and so­cial care cope with the ex­tra pres­sure.”

How­ever, al­most 74% of the 454 am­bu­lances which re­sponded to a red call in North Wales last month ar­rived within eight min­utes of the call, ex­ceed­ing the 65% tar­get.

The fig­ures also show that, since the health board was placed in spe­cial mea­sures in 2015, there has been a 150% rise in the num­ber of pa­tients wait­ing more than 36 weeks for med­i­cal treat­ment - de­spite a £13.1m in­vest­ment pack­age de­signed to halve wait­ing lists.

Direc­tor of sec­ondary care for BCUHB, David Done­gan, said: “This has been a very chal­leng­ing win­ter across Wales and we apol­o­gise to all pa­tients who have to wait longer to be seen or ad­mit­ted.

“Our staff have worked tire­lessly to do the best that they can and we con­tinue to fo­cus on work­ing to keep our hos­pi­tals as safe as pos­si­ble un­der these cir­cum­stances.”

Shadow health sec­re­tary An­gela Burns said: “With each pass­ing month, the fig­ures get worse, and the sad truth is that peo­ple are no longer sur­prised to hear that A&E wait­ing times have once again reached new lev­els of ‘worst ever’. We all un­der­stand the pres­sure fac­ing our hard­work­ing front­line staff, but they’re be­ing let down by the suits in charge.”

A Welsh Government spokesper­son said: “We have made it clear to the health board the sus­tain­able im­prove­ments they need to make in key ar­eas.

“Our fo­cus is on work­ing with the health board to en­sure the pop­u­la­tion of North Wales see im­prove­ments and re­ceive high­qual­ity ser­vices.”

The ac­ci­dent and Emer­gency Unit at Ys­byty Gwynedd, Ban­gor

Vaughan Gething

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