Posted: Tue 10th Jan 2023

Wales’ health minister apologyover long delays for NHS treatment this winter

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Jan 10th, 2023

Wales’ health minister has apologised to patients who have been forced to face long delays for NHS treatment this winter. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

The health service has faced unprecedented demand in recent weeks as staff work hard to deal with a rise flu, Strep A and coronavirus cases – along with a backlog of patients from the pandemic and long waiting times in emergency departments. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

December 27 has been described as the busiest day in the history of the Welsh NHS with 550 patients admitted to hospital within 24 hours. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

Staff have called for improved working conditions and support with further strike action from ambulance workers and nurses scheduled for this month. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

Despite the pressure on the health service and pleas from workers, governments across all four UK nations were missing in action over the Christmas period – with a notable absence of comment or statement from health ministers. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

Eluned Morgan, minister for health and social services in Wales, was described as being “no-where to be seen” by Plaid Cymru spokesperson for health and care, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales this morning – ahead of making a statement in the Senedd this afternoon – Ms Morgan was asked whether she would apologise to patients who have had a “terrible experience’ over the last few weeks. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

Ms Morgan: “Course I want to apologise. Of course I’m really sorry that we haven’t been able to do better despite all the huge efforts that have been made by people across the whole of Wales within the health services. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

“We’ve seen that if you look at how we’re performing compared to England in relation to emergency services, then actually we’re performing much better because the measures are in place.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

The health minister also defended measures put in place to help the NHS this winter, warning that it could have been worse had the government not been preparing since April. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

She said: “We’ve been preparing for winter since April. And if you look at what we’ve got this year, compared to what we had last year, we’ve got a 111 service that has been rolled out across around across the whole of Wales. At one point was taking 8,500 calls a day. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

“Urgent primary care centres have been established across the whole of Wales, again diverting about 5000 people away from A&E. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

“I think what’s important is to understand is how bad it could have been had we not put these things in place. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

“We’ve got 100 new workers starting – and already started some of them. We’ve got a situation where ambulances now are able to remote access and telephone and triage and 16% are being diverted away from A&E. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

“All of these things are new services that weren’t there last year last year. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

“Now what we didn’t foresee is the incredible demand, that has been unprecedented. We didn’t see that flu would would come at the same time as a massive COVID peak. We didn’t see that Strep A would come at the same time and we didn’t see that RSV in children would would also be at a high level all at the same time. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

“We have put huge amounts of preparation in place and obviously it’s not enough.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​​​‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​‌‌​‍‌​​‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​​‌​‌‌‍‌​​‌‌‌​​‍‌​​‌​​​​‍‌​​‌​​‌​

The health minister said it was up to the public to help us, “I think there’s a responsibility public to help us because, you know, we won’t be able to cope with this in future, it is difficult enough now.”

She said: “We have very high levels of ill health in Wales, and people can help themselves.”

“People can do more exercise, stop smoking, and be careful in terms of what they eat.”

“All of those things are things we would ask people to help us with.”

 

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