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