A&E waiting times At Wrexham Maelor worst in Wales last month as pressure on NHS continues to grow
A&E waiting times in Wrexham’s Maelor Hospital were the worst in Wales last month with just over 42 per cent of patients seen within four hours.
New figures released on Thursday show that the NHS in Wales continues to face increasing pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic, demand from the backlog, a growing backlog of postponed operations and treatments and staff
During November 4,585 people attended the emergency department at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital, 1,934 (42.2 per cent) were seen within the target time.
This figure increased to 63.3 per cent seen within eight hours and 76.2 per cent within 12 hours.
In the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board region 62 per cent of attendees were seen within four hours – the lowest across Wales.
Today’s data shows that there were more than 80,500 attendances to all NHS Wales emergency departments in November 2021.
This was 5.7 per cent lower than the previous month (4,867 fewer attendances), but 25.6 per cent higher than in the same month last year (16,386 more attendances).
95 per cent of new patients should spend less than 4 hours in emergency departments from arrival until admission, transfer or discharge.
However the all-Wales average for last month was 67.6 per cent.
The demand on the health service also continued to be seen in the waiting times for people waiting for diagnostics, with data for October 2021 showing 106,000 patient pathways – an increase of 2.1 per cent compared with the previous month.
Across Wales 679,626 people are waiting for treatment on patient pathways – nearly 11,000 more than the previous month.
In North Wales there are 143,555 patients waiting to start treatment. Of those 78,030 have been waiting up to 26 weeks, 12,292 between 26 and 36 weeks and 53,233 over 36 weeks.
Earlier this week Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board announced that it would be postponing non-urgent operations, procedures and outpatient appointments with immediate effect, due to booster efforts and projected staff shortages due to omicron.
In November, there were fewer calls made to the ambulance service and fewer attendances at emergency departments. However one in 10 calls made to the ambulance service were life-threatening – the highest on record.
An average of 128 immediately life-threatening (‘red’) calls were made per day, the third highest since comparable data was first available in May 2019, and the sixth month in a row where on average there were more than 100 calls made each day.
Throughout November over 38,500 emergency calls were made to the ambulance service. This is an average of 1,285 calls per day.
53 per cent of emergency responses to immediately life threatening (red) calls arrived within eight minutes.
This is below the target time of attending 65 per cent of category red calls within the timeframe.
However this target has not been met in 16 months.
Today’s figures have been criticised by the Welsh Conservatives, who said pressures needs to be eased on emergency departments.
Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said: “Although coronavirus and the pent-up demand from previous lockdowns is obviously a huge factor in today’s damning statistics, there has to come a point when things get better.
“However, Labour’s record over two decades is one where things have gotten perpetually worse: doubling the waiting list in the year before Covid struck, experiencing its worst-ever A&E waits the year before the pandemic, and removing conditions like strokes from the red-call ambulance criteria.
“Moving forward, we need to relieve pressures on A&E in three steps: encouraging use of other services like minor injury units and community pharmacists, rolling out regional surgical hubs to deal with the treatment backlog, and making it far easier to access GP services.
“It is clear that Labour has lost its grip on the NHS. But we all must also have a serious national conversation on how we learn to live with this virus and the increasing demands we, as a nation, put on our national health service.”
Responding to today’s figures, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Our NHS is facing its toughest winter ever and our hardworking staff continue to show unwavering commitment to delivering high quality care to hundreds of thousands of patients each month.
“We have committed £1bn this Senedd term to helping the NHS recover from the pandemic and to treat patients as quickly as possible. This week we have also committed funding to deliver the Real Living Wage for social workers, who are critical to helping people out of hospital and freeing up bed space.
“However increasing challenges from COVID pressures, mean waiting times have and will continue to rise.
“Health Boards will continue to support those who are waiting for treatment, and are establishing services to support individuals to better manage any symptoms.
“Our immediate focus is now on ensuring we deal with this next difficult phase of the pandemic and that patients can receive urgent care when they need it.
“It is encouraging to see improvement in the ambulance performance for November. But they and emergency departments remain under pressure.
“Today we have announced an extra £34m for ambulances, including extra staff, non-urgent patient transport and increased military support.
“We are doing all we can to support our emergency and urgent services and we would urge everyone to Help Us, Help You this winter by considering how they access care.
“Your local pharmacy and the 111 online service can provide advice for minor illnesses and ailments.”
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