Posted: Fri 22nd Feb 2019

Wrexham Maelor’s A&E waiting times worst in Wales- health board say January saw “significant increase in demand”

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Feb 22nd, 2019

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A&E waiting times at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital were the worst in Wales last month – however the health board said it saw a “significant increase in demand” compared to this time last year.

Figures released today by Stats Wales show that 49.3 per cent of patients spent less than four hours waiting to be seen. This is compared to the four hour target of 95 per cent.

A total of 5,459 people attended the hospital in January, with Stats Wales showing that 2,691 of those patients were seen within four hours.

A further breakdown shows that 4,028 or 73.8 per cent of patients were seen within eight hours and 4,734 / 86.7 per cent were seen within 12 hours.

The figure is down slightly on the 50.6 per cent recorded for the hospital in December 2018.

Across Betsi Cadwaladr Univeristy Health Board – which covers health organisations across North Wales – Ysbyty Glan Clwyd saw 54.6 per cent of patients seen within four hours and 70.5 per cent at Ysbyty Gwynedd.

A spokesperson for the health board said there a had been a significant increase in demand compared to 12 months ago, with 675 more people attending its three Emergency Departments.

The spokesperson continued: “Other challenges included an increase of ten per cent in acutely unwell patients in our most serious triage category and the impact of more cases of flu.

“Despite this, there were improvements in some areas of our emergency care performance including a 56 per cent reduction in ambulance handover delays outside our hospitals, and fewer delays for people who are ready to go home from hospital.

“We are working with partners to co-ordinate action across all parts of the system including community services, hospitals, voluntary sector, social care and the ambulance service.

“We know there is still more to do and we are determined to make further progress. We would like to thank our staff for their continued hard work and dedication.”

Locally there have been a series of changes undertaken at A&E, with a ‘faster flow’ of patients from ambulances into the department.

During a meeting last month between councillors, the health board and the ambulance service, it was noted that although the average waiting times in the Wrexham Maelor Emergency Department in December was nine and a half hours, there has been a “seismic shift” in the ambulance transfer times compared to this time last year.

However earlier this week reported that the health board was to remain in Special Measures by the Welsh Government, despite progress and a series of improvements across several areas.

Commenting on today’s result, Health Minister Vaughan Gething, said it was the busiest January on record for Welsh emergency departments.

Mr Gething said: “It is testament to our hard-working NHS staff that despite this pressure the number of patients seen and treated within the 4-hour target was the highest for January since 2014.

“Four health boards improved their four-hour performance compared to January last year. While the ambulance target was surpassed for the 41st consecutive month and the average response time for red and amber patients improved compared to the same time last year.

“However, I am disappointed to see an overall drop in emergency departments’ performance indicators, which has been particularly affected by the poor performance at two of the three Emergency Departments in north Wales.

“I have been clear with the Chief Executive and Chair of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board that I expect to see immediate and continuous improvement following substantial Welsh Government support.

“We are committed to whole system solutions to drive improvement – this is not an Emergency Department issue but one that can be improved by the wider health and social care system.”

But Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru AM for North Wales, described the long-term situation in Wrexham and Glan Clwyd’s A&E departments as “dire”.

He added: “Staff are under huge pressures and clearly more support is needed. I look forward to hearing how the new chair of Betsi Cadwaladr intends to address this long-standing problem and have asked for an urgent meeting.”

Shadow Minister for Health and Social Services, Helen Mary Jones AM, added: “These figures are completely unacceptable and demonstrate a serious lack of competence on the Welsh Government’s part. Winter happens every year – along with seasonal bugs and flus, and it can all be prepared and planned for.

“The real issue here is a lack of planning and taking adequate preventative measures to deal with the winter months.

“We need a real out of hours GP service, social care that works to care for people over winter, more community beds, and a clear plan to ensure hospital bed occupancy stays as safe levels so surges can be dealt with.

“These are all achievable and effective steps that would dramatically improve A&E figures.”

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