Posted: Thu 18th Nov 2021

Latest Welsh NHS performance figures show ‘unsustainable pressures’ on health system

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Nov 18th, 2021

The latest Welsh NHS performance figures demonstrate the “unsustainable pressures” the health system is being faced with, leading figures have said.

Data published today shows the worst ever performance for ambulance and emergency department waiting times was recorded across Wales in October.

In north Wales, just under 53 per cent of the 14,304 patients who attended A&E spent less than the four hour target time to be seen, compared to around 65 per cent nationally.

The emergency department at Wrexham Maelor Hospital recorded the worst figures with just 41.6 per cent seen during that timescale, compared to 54.8 per cent at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and 63.5 per cent at Ysbyty Gwynedd.

The Welsh Ambulance Service also responded to less than half (47.3 per cent) of immediately life-threatening calls in the region within the eight minute target time, compared to 50 per cent at an all-Wales level.

The Welsh NHS Confederation said it was a sign of the continuing high demand being encountered by frontline staff.

Director Darren Hughes said: “The NHS in Wales is currently facing unsustainable pressures, from all angles – problems facing social care, the ongoing impact of Covid-19, increasing demand for urgent and emergency care, as well as primary care, staff shortages and of course, the backlog of treatment.

“These statistics show the unrelenting high levels of demand the ambulance service and emergency departments are facing, with October seeing the highest number of immediately life-threatening (‘red’) calls made to the ambulance service since records began.

“We welcome the Welsh Government’s announcement of investment in diagnostic equipment, but without addressing staffing problems and wider system issues at play, there is only so much the NHS can do to address waiting times.

“It’s critical that funding and resources are focused on alleviating pressures facing the social care sector to assist in reducing the bottleneck, ensuring medically fit patients can safely be discharged into the community, freeing up much-needed capacity in the NHS.

“However, we need to be honest with the public that winter is going to be extremely difficult. The whole system is working together to find solutions to solve the problems, improve patient flow, manage high demand and keep people out of hospital where possible, but the pressure on the system is higher than at any other point during the pandemic.

“NHS leaders are very mindful that behind these statistics are people, both patients and the staff who are working day-in, day-out to do all they can to keep patients safe. We cannot thank them enough.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The latest data shows pressure on our health and care system continues to grow. But our hardworking health and social care staff continue to deliver high quality care when people need it.

“It is encouraging the number of patients newly diagnosed with cancer starting their first definitive treatment and the number of patients informed they did not have cancer have both increased on the previous month.

“In a boost to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, the Health Minister today announced more than £51m is to be invested in replacing ageing diagnostic imaging equipment across NHS Wales.

“This will significantly improve image quality, often resulting in earlier and more accurate diagnosis.

“We have invested an extra £248m this year to transform the delivery of services and tackle waiting times, but because of the ongoing pressures and effects of the pandemic we don’t expect to see real progress before the spring.

“The ambulance service in Wales, like the rest of the UK, continues to be under great strain. The number of red calls, which are classed as life-threatening, in October were the highest ever on record. The number of calls in October were also 24% higher than October last year.

“Earlier this year we provided an additional £25m to go towards supporting the transformation of urgent and emergency care services to deliver the right care in the right place, first time.

“The ambulance service have also received funding for the recruitment of the equivalent of 120 staff.

“We encourage people to consider the best options for care, and not necessarily head to their local emergency department. To get the right care, first time people can also use the online 111 service and their local pharmacist where appropriate.”

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