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A&E safety risks in Wales 'unacceptable'

A&E safety risks in Wales 'unacceptable'
From BBC - January 18, 2018

Emergency hospital consultants in Wales have written to the first minister claiming safety is being compromised "to an unacceptable degree".

The group said they recognised funding constraints but said both NHS Wales and the social care sector were "severely and chronically under-resourced".

December figures show the lowest level of A&E performance since March 2016 but attendances were 5.4% higher than 2017.

The Welsh Government said it had been "open" about the challenges of winter.

The latest figures for December show:

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The letter follows a similar one written by mostly English hospital consultants to Prime Minister Theresa May last week.

It said it did not dispute the effort which had gone into winter planning but "unfortunately our experience from the clinical front line is that these plans have fallen well short of what was required to maintain adequate care for our patients".

The letter from the consultants in Wales goes on to say: "We have neither sufficient staff nor sufficient beds (in either acute hospitals or the community) to cope with the needs of an ageing population".

'Staff in tears'

They said emergency departments in Wales "in some ways" were worse than in England.

Examples given include staff arriving for work to find patients in the emergency department who were there the previous day and "multiple" staff in tears because they feel they cannot deliver the care patients need.

One of the signatories, Dr Tim Rogerson, a consultant in emergency medicine at Newport's Royal Gwent Hospital, said: "We are on our knees as far as emergency care [is concerned].

"We have patients coming into emergency departments that are already full."

He added: "There's good evidence that if patients are seen in emergency departments which are crowded, that are full, their treatment is delayed.

"That can actually cause an increase in the length of stay, it can make their illness more severe and in some cases it can cause death, so for safety and patient care we are very, very worried."

The consultants' letter calls on First Minister Carwyn Jones to address issues "as a matter of urgency", including reviewing the number of beds available for acute care and a "significant increase" in funding for social care.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething, said: "Despite the busiest December on record for our A&E departments and the busiest ever month for the Welsh Ambulance Service, our NHS has continued to perform under exceptional pressure in delivering emergency and scheduled care."

He said the ambulance target was "comfortably achieved" in December.

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