North Wales patients being ‘let down’ by Labour’s running of NHS, say Conservatives
Patients in north Wales are being let down by Labour’s running of the NHS, the Conservatives have said.
It follows today’s news that Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has declared a critical incident due to the “prolonged and significant demand” being placed on the region’s hospitals.
It means that all but the most urgent hospital procedures have been postponed, with health board officials citing winter pressures, an increase in winter viruses and concerns over Strep A as being among the main causes.
The board said scheduled industrial action from nurses and ambulance staff had added to the demand.
The Welsh Conservatives have hit out at the Labour-run Welsh Government over the situation and are calling for urgent action to ensure patients can access safe healthcare.
Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said: “As ever there is plenty of disappointment but no shock to hear that North Wales’ health board is once again in trouble and unable to cope.
“It is, sadly, a tale as old as time for staff and patients in the region who have been let down by the way the NHS has been run there by the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay.
“We need to hear urgently from Labour’s Health Minister to know what the plan of action is, especially with more strikes from nurses and ambulance workers imminent – patients must have confidence that they can access the safe healthcare there taxes pay for.
“When we see that the problem is insufficient beds, it stings all the more when we know Labour has cut a third of NHS beds in the devolution era and have waited so long to address bed-blocking where healthy people are stuck in hospital because they cannot be discharged somewhere safe.
“I really do fear that 2022 may have been a terrible year for the Welsh NHS – with treatment waiting lists, A&E waits, and ambulance response times all hitting their worst rates on record over the last 12 months – but, under Labour, things can still get worse.”
Ynys Môn MS Rhun ap Iorwerth, Plaid Cymru’s health spokesperson, has also spoken out about the situation.
He said: “The state of our NHS is becoming more and more worrying. Staff and patients are suffering as the unsustainability of our health and care service becomes more stark by the day. Only this morning, I was contacted about very unwell patients facing prolonged waits for ambulances.
“Declaring a critical incident may be understandable when things are as bad as they’re being described by the health board. But the question is, why is the NHS having to operate at maximum capacity and beyond? It can’t.”
The rise in viruses and injuries caused by the recent cold weather has meant that emergency departments in the region have come under significant pressure.
Gill Harris, Betsi Cadwaladr’s interim chief executive, said: “The Royal College of Nursing industrial action that is due to take place again tomorrow and the Welsh Ambulance Service action on Wednesday will limit our ability to respond even further.
“A lack of available beds in our hospitals is currently leading to unprecedented ambulance delays across the health board and we are working closely with local authority colleagues to support medically fit patients to be discharged from hospital.
“Similar pressures are being experienced in other health boards and English trusts.
“This morning, we have declared an internal critical incident, which means we are struggling to cope with the prolonged, significant demand on the health system in north Wales. As a result, we have postponed all but the most urgent procedures in our hospitals.
“We regret that this will impact on a number of patients who were due to receive planned care over the next few days and sincerely apologise to all those affected, who will be rescheduled as soon as possible.
“This is an exceptionally challenging time for colleagues across our health services and we are hugely grateful for the continued efforts being made in such difficult circumstances.”
Discussions with unions are ongoing to ensure that there are enough staff to provide services during the strikes to ensure patient safety.
Any patients directly impacted by industrial action will be contacted directly by the health board.
Ms Harris added: “We are urging members of the public who need help to contact 111 in the first instance to be advised about the most appropriate service, which might be self-care at home, a visit to the pharmacy, a GP appointment, a minor injuries unit or, in life threatening circumstances, the hospital emergency department.
“As always, our emergency departments will remain open and will see patients in order of clinical priority.
“We regret that we anticipate that those who do attend will face extremely long waits to be seen while staff on duty do all they can to keep patients safe.”
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