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Andrew RT Davies accuses First Minister of ‘smearing’ Royal College of Emergency Medicine

18 Oct 2023 6 minute read
Left: Mark Drakeford – Right: Andrew RT Davies.

Emily Price

The Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies has accused the First Minister of “smearing” the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) over media reports of an A&E waiting time scandal.

The comments from the leader of the opposition came following FMQs yesterday (October 17) when Mr Davies raised the issue of a BBC investigation which claimed that over a decade worth of A&E waiting times have been underreported.

In the BBC report, the RCEM said that thousands of patients are subject to “breach exemptions” which are not included in the overall waiting time figures and haven’t been since 2011 when the category was first introduced.

Just as FMQ’s got underway on Tuesday, the Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan issued a statement stating there was “no evidence” to support the media claims.

She said this was because the Freedom of Information request submitted by the RCEM to Welsh health boards had “misinterpreted” Welsh Government guidance.

However, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives said he thought the Royal College’s findings was “strong evidence” that “merits consideration”.

Mr Davies asked: “Can you confirm this afternoon, First Minister, that the figures on breach exemptions are calculated for eight- and 12-hour waits, not just four-hour waits?”

“Misinterpreted”

The First Minister responded: “Somewhere, there has been a misunderstanding of the figures, but not by us. The figures that were provided to the Royal College have been misunderstood and misinterpreted.

“That may be a matter of disappointment to Members on the opposition benches, but I’m afraid that is the case. Welsh Government statisticians do not exclude clinical exceptions from the data that is received from the local health boards.

“We report that data. That is what was suggested was not happening; that is not the case. Clinicians decide whether or not somebody should be retained in an emergency department beyond four hours when it is in the interests of the patient to do so.

“As the letter of 9 December 2011 said, these principles are recognised and supported by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.”

The leader of the opposition said that Mark Drakeford had failed to answer his question.

Numbers

He said: “I don’t dispute that the patients turning up at A&E—and I don’t think the Royal College of Emergency Medicine disputes that, obviously, these patients are captured as individuals who attend accident and emergency departments.

“My question to you was: once they go beyond the four-hour wait, are they captured in the eight- and 12-hour wait, which is a key gateway in measuring the flow through accident and emergency departments? You didn’t answer that part of my question to you.”

“Because, when you look at the numbers, 45,000, according to the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, were not captured in the eight- and 12-hour figures in the first six months of this year.

“In the 10 years since these figures were brought in, 670,000 people have not been captured in the way the Welsh Government correlate these figures in the eight- and 12-hour waits.”

The first minister attempted to answer the question saying, “Not a single patient’s care is affected by these figures…” but he was interrupted by jeers from the opposition benches and calling out from Labour benches.

Quiet

Llywydd, Elin Jones intervened calling for quiet in the chamber and Mr Drakeford answered: “Clinicians decide whether or not somebody needs to be retained in the A&E department or moved on to a different part of the system.

“There was a period in which, in order to beat the clock, the four-hour waits, we knew that people would be artificially moved out of the department so that they didn’t score against a four-hour wait.

“Clinicians consistently said to us that that was not the right way for patients to be treated. But, if a clinician believed that that patient should stay in the accident and emergency department, that’s where they should stay.

“The figures that I see routinely reported are at four hours and 12 hours. I’ll ask the Minister whether there is management information, that records eight hours, but, routinely, we report what happens to patients at four hours and 12 hours.

“We do not exclude clinical exceptions from the data reported and the data that we do report is comparable with data reported elsewhere, as we always have maintained.”

Following FMQs, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives said the first minister still hadn’t answered his question.

In a statement, he said:“When it comes to the Welsh A&E reporting scandal, Labour’s story keeps changing. Mark Drakeford failed to give a straight answer and Welsh patients urgently need clarity.

“We all know why this happened: Labour ministers in the Senedd are distracted. Instead of focusing on the people’s priorities like our Welsh NHS, they’ve wasted time on vanity projects like blanket 20mph speed limits and spending £120million on 36 more politicians.

“Instead of smearing the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Mark Drakeford must get his priorities right. Labour must drop their extreme policies and focus on our Welsh NHS.”

In the statement released on Tuesday, Eluned Morgan said: “Media coverage has suggested that official statistics on emergency department waiting times for Wales have been under-reported since 2011, when a category called “clinical exceptions” was introduced.

“The media coverage is incorrect. We have received assurances from health boards that exceptions are included in their figures. Clinical exceptions (or breach exemptions) refer to when emergency department clinicians have deemed that patients require an additional, extended period of observation or treatment.

“Nationally agreed guidance states that clinical exceptions should be included in the data reported by health boards to Digital Health and Care Wales (DHCW), with an agreed process for how waiting times for these patients are calculated and considered in performance monitoring.

“I am grateful to RCEM for continuing to fight for the best possible care for patients in our emergency departments and I hope we can continue closely working together to drive whole system improvements through our Six Goals for Urgent and Emergency Care national programme.”


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Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
6 months ago

Angen blaen troed i ebargofiant ar y jaci soch yma. Yr etholiad nesaf, gobeithio!

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 months ago

Refuting claims made against them by the RCEM in a respectful and professional way is not “smearing”, whatever the facts of the situation turn out to be.

ARtie’s unsurprising hyperbolic attack is just more outrage farming from the partisan, posturing, puce, pointing, polemicist pillock.

His days are undoubtedly numbered. If his massive unpopularity and the next Senedd Election doesn’t take him off the stage in the coming years, cholestrol probably will. That’s not a natural colour

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

Although I must say, seeing this advert on an article featuring ARTie does appear to be particularly targetted

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Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
6 months ago

How can RTD talk when his beloved England is in just the same state of crisis.

The health service as with the whole UK economy is underperforming the rest of the developed world.

Its choices of centralised governance and leaving the EU and the Europe single market ( which as a loyal Tory he supported leaving ) has contributed to Britain’s underperformance.

Bring on Welsh self-determination.

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
6 months ago

Your plea is, ‘Bring on Welsh self-determination’.

Mine is, ‘Please – not under this Labour administration!’

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
6 months ago

Despite RTD being targeted as the Senedd’s usual Aunt Sally, for his no doubt Quixotic insistence on ‘inconvenient truths’, it is clear, if one takes even a moment to consider the matter, that the issue which has exercised RCEM is the fundamental one of the comparability of statistics, as between Wales and England. The twisting and turning of the FM in his attempts to evade the real question reveals the agony of Welsh Labour in it’s terminal obscurantism. But if RTD can conveniently be laughed to scorn by dishonest Leftist partisans, it is only to find themselves confronting serious questions… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Philip Davies
Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 months ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

That’s a lot of hyperbole. I particularly enjoyed “dishonest leftist partisans” meaning “people who hold opinions I disagree with”.

Is ARTie being “targeted” or is he just getting well deserved ridicule for his polemical absurdities?

I don’t know whether the Senedd is correct on this matter, or the One Nation, Unionist BBC. But your certainty of malfeasance by Cardiff bay seems to be an attempt to affirm your pre-existing conclusions

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
6 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

Hyperbole! Pot? Kettle?

In any case I have presented a straightforward argument as well, which of course you prefer to ridicule rather than address.

But there we are, the Left on their high horse, nostrils striving aloft to avoid the stench of all those whom you see as being ‘not one of us’.

That is a caricature: I present it to you. I hope it annoys you.

My work here is done.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 months ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

I think you need to look up the word hyperbole. And no you don’t annoy me. You amuse me.

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
6 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

You ranted, ‘just more outrage farming from the partisan, posturing, puce, pointing, polemicist pillock’ Since you have advised me to look up ‘hyperbole’ I can confirm that the fool’s cap fits you perfectly. The ‘Literary Devices’ Website defines hyperbole thus: ‘Hyperbole is a figure of speech and literary device that creates heightened effect through deliberate exaggeration. Hyperbole is often a boldly overstated or exaggerated claim or statement that adds emphasis without the intention of being literally true. In rhetoric and literature, hyperbole is often used for serious, comic, or ironic effects.’ Now, I can have no objections to your use… Read more »

Gareth
Gareth
6 months ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

” quixotic Insistence on inconvenient truths” are we talking the same A R T Davies here, the ” blanket” 20 mph laws, and, every immigrant to get “£1600 a month from our Gov”, hardly the truth.

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
6 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

Yes, I was indeed talking about those important issues, legitimately raised by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senedd – and substantially true, I fear.

Unfortunately, our dogmatic FM gets rattled because he doesn’t like discussing his Corbynista edicts.

You never seem to grasp, on the Left, that adopting an air of hectoring superiority, like a bad schoolteacher, is not the most persuasive tactic to adopt, when giving us your half-baked lessons!

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 months ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

Your job was done. You said. Is this overtime then?

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
6 months ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

You wish to restrict my freedom of response? How typical of the intolerant Left!

Gareth
Gareth
6 months ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

Could you please post evidence of the £1600 a month that Mr Davies claimed every illegal immigrant would receive from our gov, he has not since mentioned this after being called out on it, and it was shown to be a lie.

Last edited 6 months ago by Gareth
Philip Davies
Philip Davies
6 months ago
Reply to  Gareth

Do your own research – if that doesn’t take you out of the comfort-zone of your own ignorance.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
6 months ago
Reply to  Philip Davies

Is this the official Gwlad position?

Philip Davies
Philip Davies
6 months ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

I don’t know, but looking them up I’m grateful to you for the opportunity to expand my knowledge of Welsh politics.

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
6 months ago

As far as i am concerned in Wales we have 2 useless politicians from the 2 Unionist Parties Dripford for Labour and the other buffoon artie Davies that is all either of them do is try to score brownie points also i forget about the other tory clown the Tory Welsh sec he is supposed to represent our country thats all he ever does is put Wales and its people down he has never done anything for Wales but hey neither has the the tories over the years

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