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