Health chiefs’ plea: ‘stay away from A&E’ YAR­WOOD

North Wales Weekly News - - POLLITICS / OPINIONS - BY SAM

PEO­PLE have been urged to stay away from A& E... un­less their lives de­pend on it.

That is the stark mes­sage is­sued by North Wales health chiefs to any­one con­sid­er­ing vis­it­ing emer­gency de­part­ments at Ys­byty Gwynedd, Ys­byty Glan Cl­wyd and Wrex­ham Maelor. The Betsi Cad­wal­adr Univer­sity Health Board says the hos­pi­tals are jam packed and strug­gling to cope with the high vol­ume of pa­tients walk­ing through the door.

A state­ment is­sued by the board urged peo­ple not to at­tend un­less their “lives are at risk” or they are “ex­tremely ill” as there had been a “sig­nif­i­cant in­crease” in pa­tients at­tend­ing A& E.

Dr Ea­monn Jes­sup, a Prestatyn- based GP and chair­man of the North Wales Lo­cal Med­i­cal Com­mit­tee, says it is not sur­pris­ing that A& E de­part­ments are strug­gling fol­low­ing the board’s decision to axe so many com­mu­nity hos­pi­tals and mi­nor in­juries units in the re­gion.

He said: “Where do they ex­pect them (pa­tients) to go if they can’t go to A& E? They shut down the com­mu­nity hos­pi­tals and mi­nor in­juries.”

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Jes­sup, the en­tire health sys­tem in Wales is “clogged up” — and it’s not just the emer­gency depart­ment that is feel­ing the strain.

He says that both GPs and out-of-hours surg­eries are also fac­ing ev­er­grow­ing pres­sure as de­mand for ser­vices con­tin­ues to rise.

He says that is down to a lack of re­sources and the NHS’s strug­gle to at­tract young GPs to work in Wales.

Dr Jes­sup said: “There has been a mas­sive drop in the num­ber of peo­ple tak­ing up train­ing places here in Wales and the main rea­son for it is the sys­tem it­self — they take one look at it and all the prob­lems and go else- where and you can un­der­stand why.”

He added: “Some peo­ple aren’t al­ways happy to wait a few days for an ap­point­ment with their lo­cal GP, so in­stead they de­cide to go to A& E think­ing they will get to see some­one quicker be­cause the door is open.

“There is also the op­tion to speak with a nurse prac­ti­tioner who can di­ag­nose and rec­om­mend treat­ment over the phone but some would rather wait four hours in A& E and see some­one face to face.”

The health board’s mes­sage comes within days of a health in­spec­torate visit which flagged up risks to pa­tients safety at Wrex­ham Maelor be­cause of long, pres­surised pe­ri­ods of A& E ac­tiv­ity.

First Min­is­ter Car­wyn Jones told AMs in the Senedd yes­ter­day that he’s ac­cepted a pro­posal for an all party com­mis­sion to ex­am­ine the dif­fi­cul­ties fac­ing the NHS.

North Wales AM Mark Ish­er­wood said that front­line NHS staff are be­ing place un­der “un­ac­cept­able pres­sure” and pa­tients are be­ing ex­posed to “in­tol­er­a­ble waits”.

He said: This is not a new cri­sis and it is about time Labour min­is­ters started lis­ten­ing to our doc­tors and nurses in both our gen­eral and com­mu­nity hos­pi­tals, who can tell them what ac­tion is needed.”

A health board spokes­woman said: “Over the last few weeks there has been a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the num­ber of se­ri­ously ill pa­tients be­ing ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal, which has put in­creased pres­sure on beds as pa­tients have needed longer stays in hos­pi­tal than nor­mal.

“Emer­gency pres­sures do fluc­tu­ate dur­ing the day, and from day to day, and all the A& E De­part­ments within Betsi Cad­wal­adr Univer­sity Health Board are ex­tremely busy. Our staff are work­ing in­cred­i­bly hard to make sure that pa­tients are get­ting the care they need.”

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