A group of Flintshire politicians have called for the Welsh Government to take urgent action over concerns delays at Wrexham Maelor Hospital are putting patients at risk.
The Flintshire Independents want ministers to intervene after one of their members witnessed what she described as “horrific” conditions at the hospital’s emergency deparment.
Buckley councillor Carol Ellis visited A&E in September after her husband Dave was taken in with a serious condition.
She described how he was forced to wait on a trolley for more than six hours before being seen, with only two doctors on duty to assess more than 80 patients.
Since highlighting his experience, Cllr Ellis said she had been approached by several people who encountered similar issues, including some who faced waits of more than 12 hours.
It has led to a motion being put forward to all councillors in Flintshire asking them to support calls for the government to step in amid growing criticism of the region’s health board.
In the notice, they said: “We call on Welsh Government to make Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board accountable in their care of patients and staff.
“After many years in so-called special measures, the crisis with the district hospitals remains a worry.
“A twelve hour wait at Wrexham Maelor is not unusual, it’s the normal wait time.
“Staff are under growing pressure and have been heard to say they are fearful of the situation getting worse as the hospitals cannot cope with the numbers.
“We feel people may be put at risk due to lack of provision.”
The health board has been in special measures for more than four years and has the worst rate of patients waiting more than 12 hours to be seen in Wales at 9.6 per cent.
Senior officials were strongly condemned by staff this week for choosing to press ahead with rota changes, which will see nurses’ shifts extended by an additional half-hour break for no extra pay.
Cllr Ellis said hospital staff deserved more support and questioned whether Flintshire should have its own district hospital.
Betsi Cadwaladr’s chief executive Gary Doherty has promised to meet with the group to discuss their concerns.
Despite the problems, the hospital’s managing director said performance against the four hour A&E wait target had improved between July and September, while the number of patients sitting outside in ambulances has reduced by more than 70 per cent.
Imran Devji said: “We’re continuing to work to improve the way patients who visit the emergency department are seen, this has included improving our staffing numbers and their skills.
“We have recently opened our acute medical unit at Wrexham Maelor Hospital for our patients who require urgent care.
“This will help to reduce unnecessary waits within the department.
“We continue to ask for the public’s help to ensure the emergency department is only caring for people in need of emergency treatment.
“The minor injuries units in Holywell and Mold can treat a number of less serious ailments, while other services in the community, including our pharmacies, can provide fast, effective treatment.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Under special measures we have put in place robust arrangements to hold the health board to account in making improvements.
“Progress has been made, with maternity services and GP out-of-hours services now out of special measures.
“Focus in now on the remaining areas of concern, including unscheduled care where performance has stabilised in recent months despite increased demand.”
The councillors’ motion will discussed at a full council meeting at County Hall in Mold on Tueday, November 19.
Health minister Vaughan Gething is expected to publish details of the next steps required for the health board to exit special measures next month.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).