FRESH warnings have been issued that emergency care in Wales is “in crisis” after one of the worst months for missed A&E waiting times targets on record.
The latest Welsh NHS data for January showed a third (33.4 per cent) of patients had to wait over the four hour target to be seen in A&E - the third worst month for the Welsh NHS on record.
The Welsh Government target to get 95 per cent admittances seen in four hours has never been met since it was introduced 12 years ago.
The data also shows that 14,281 patients in February spent more than 8 hours in A&E and 9,150 spent more than 12 hours in A&E.
Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board, which covers North Wales, was the worst performing area in the nation against the four-hour A&E target, seeing only 59.5 per cent in four hours.
Mid and West Wales MS Jane Dodds said: “It is clear the Welsh NHS remains in crisis, with A&E services the worst affected.
“Our amazing NHS staff are doing everything they can, but patients are paying the price for policy failures.
“The Welsh Government should be taking urgent steps to boost local health services and GPs in order to reduce the massive amounts of pressure on A&E departments and the backlogs that are impacting the ambulance service.”
The latest NHS data also shows that one in five people remain on growing waiting lists, with the number of people waiting over two years increasing by nearly 30,000 in just four months to 56,500.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said that the health system is under “extraordinary pressure.”
“Hospital sites across Wales are currently under extraordinary pressure and this has impacted on timely delivery of care,” she said.
“This has resulted, at times, in lengthy ambulance patient handover delays, limits on ambulance capacity, increased waits for admission from emergency departments to a hospital bed and longer waits for discharge home once treatment has completed.”
Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said: “These sky-high numbers are devastating but not shocking because, sadly, they are becoming too common.
“We know that the pandemic has had a huge effect on waiting lists but the excuse will eventually wear thin and become unjustifiable.”
Hywel Dda said that an increase in demand on emergency departments and staff absence due to Covid-19 has led to hospitals having only a ‘very limited’ number of beds available.
The health board’s Director of Operations, Andrew Carruthers, said: “We are dealing with a combination of high numbers of attendances, particularly in our emergency departments and challenges in health professional staffing due to Covid-19.”
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