Waiting times “worst on record” as Welsh NHS continues to face increasing pressure
New NHS data released today shows the extent of the demand on the health service in Wales as it records its “worst on record” A&E waiting times.
The monthly data also reveals that in September the average time spent in emergency departments reached a new record high at just over three hours.
Across Wales there were just over 88,000 attendances to all NHS Wales emergency departments in September 2021, 1.4% lower than the month before but 17.2% higher year on year, but 4.3% lower than 2019.
Across Wales the target of 95 per cent of patients spending less than four hours in an emergency department was not hit.
In North Wales 65.3 per cent of patients attending emergency departments were seen within four hours.
In Wrexham 5,211 people attended the emergency department during September, with just over 51 per cent seen within the four hour target waiting time.
This is a slight improvement on the 50.7 per cent seen in August 2021.
71.1 per cent were seen within eight hours and 82 per cent within 12 hours.
The demand on the Welsh Ambulance Service also increased during September, with the trust seeing its third highest average of daily calls with over 42.500 emergency calls made during the month.
This is an average of 1,418 calls per day, which is: 77 (5.8 per cent) more calls on average per day than the previous month and 153 (12.1 per cent) more calls on average per day than the same month last year.
September 2021, was the fourth month in a row where, on average, there were more than 100 immediately life threatening calls made each day.
Median response times were slower than the previous month for both red and amber calls.
The percentage of red calls receiving a response within 8 minutes was 52.3 per cent in September 2021, down by 5.3 percentage points on the previous month.
This is lower than pre-pandemic levels and below the 65 per cent target for the fourteenth consecutive month.
This week support from the military begin with 50 troops from 4 Regiment Royal Logistic Corp enlisted to drive ambulances across Wales.
They will be joined in the next week by a further 50 personnel from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.
A 29-strong team of supporting personnel will make a total of 129 soldiers, sailors and airmen supporting the Trust until the end of November.
The impact of the pandemic is continuing to be seen on the waiting times for people waiting to start treatment.
The number of patient pathways referred but waiting to start treatment has risen each month since April 2020.
In August 2021, there were 657,539 patient pathways waiting to start treatment, the highest since comparable data was first collected in 2011.
In North Wales there were 138,397 people waiting to start treatment in August, an increase from 135,398 in July.
Of those 74,921 were waiting up to 26 weeks to start treatment, 9,810 were waiting 26 to 36 weeks and 53,666 over 36 weeks.
Performance against the 62 day cancer target increased with 63.2 per cent of patients starting their first definitive treatment in the month within the target time.
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.
“Today the Minister has published the Winter Plan which sets out how we will ensure essential services continue and minimise the impact on planned care. This is supported by extra funding for social services to help free up hospital beds.
“It’s encouraging to see improved performance against the 62 day target for cancer services.
“But COVID is still with us and restrictions and measures to keep our health settings safe are still massively reducing capacity to carry out planned care.
“We recognise the need to transform services to tackle longer-term issues and in recent months we have invested an extra £248m to help tackle the waiting list backlog.
“We have also developed with Health Boards new ways of working for emergency care supported by an extra £25m a year.
“This winter everyone can help our NHS by getting the flu jab as well as COVID and consider options like pharmacies and the 111 online service for non-urgent healthcare.”
Commenting on the figures Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said: “The non-stop bad news about the Labour-run NHS is inevitably leading people to ask if it can get any worse. Sadly, each month shows us the answer is yes.”
“Labour’s NHS is in crisis, and it is truly devastating to see the toll that is being taken on healthcare staff, with consequences for patient safety, which is becoming acute in every corner of Wales.”
“People pay their taxes in the expectation that public services perform well but we are not seeing that in Labour-run Wales where both emergency and elective care seems to be at breaking point.”
“The Welsh Government must urgently tackle the crisis in the Welsh NHS, put aside their failed strategies, and implement Conservative calls for rapid diagnostic centres to spot cancers earlier, and introduce surgical hubs to deliver treatment to patients closer to home in Covid-light environments outside of hospitals.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com