Health Minister warns of ‘extraordinary pressure’ on the NHS in Wales
Health Minister Eluned Morgan has warned the health and social care system in Wales is currently under “extraordinary pressure’ as a result of a range of factors.
Significant challenges caused by Covid outbreaks within hospitals limiting available bed capacity, high levels of Covid in the community, staff sickness absence and blockages in patient flow through hospitals have put the sector under strain, she said.
She urged people in Wales are being urged to “help us, help you” by using the NHS 111 Wales website and its symptom checkers in order to alleviate demand on other parts of the service.
This will help reduce avoidable delays to care, and support more acutely ill people to be treated in the most appropriate way, she said.
It comes after the Aneurin Bevan University health board declared a ‘black alert’ yesterday, in light of exceptional pressures it is facing at its Grange University Hospital and other sites.
This is the highest level of escalation available and clearly indicates the severe pressure being experienced by our health and care services.
Other hospital sites across Wales are currently under extraordinary pressure and this has impacted on timely delivery of care, the Welsh Government said.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “The health and social care system in Wales is currently under extraordinary pressure and we would strongly urge anyone seeking care to make sure they access the right care in the right place, whether that’s through ‘help us, help you’, access to the NHS Wales 111 website or urgent and emergency care.
“We have been open about the challenges that NHS Wales, and 999 and Emergency Departments in particular are under. This is not a unique situation in Wales; health services across the UK are facing similar challenges.
“Our priority is to ensure the safe and efficient delivery of healthcare services and anyone with a serious or urgent need for hospital treatment and those who have ‘a life-threatening illness or serious injury’ should still attend the emergency department.
“Those who have a less urgent need or could access the treatment they need at an alternative setting can help reduce pressure by choosing the right service for their needs.
“The public can also help by supporting the timely discharge of their family members when they are ready to leave hospital. If you have a relative or loved one in hospital who is well enough to go home, but is waiting to be discharged with home care and community health support, you may be able to help them to get home more quickly if you and your family are in a position to support them at home.”
In an effort to manage the situation in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area, where The Grange University Hospital is based, all non-essential activities have been cancelled, with clinical and non-clinical senior colleagues re-prioritising their workload accordingly to manage the position across the Gwent region;
The escalation status is being reviewed throughout the day.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats sai that the ‘black alert’ raised questions about the Welsh Government’s ability to get to grips with its crisis.
Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said: “This news is extremely concerning, black alerts are always serious but this has happened on a weekday night, typically a time of lower demand.
“Our NHS staff are working their absolute hardest to provide the care people deserve, but the Welsh Labour Government has so far failed to get to grips with this crisis.
“We know COVID has added sustained pressure to the healthcare system in recent years, not least with large backlogs but A&E services have been struggling for the best part of a decade.
“Labour must make reforming and fixing A&E services their absolute priority and of course, improve health care services at a local level which would go a long way in preventing these sort of crisis points we see in A&E departments.”
Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said the alert showed that the NHS was “being let down time and time again by the Labour Government”.
“We know Covid had a detrimental effect on the delivery of healthcare, but Labour ministers have had months to prepare the NHS for recovering from the pandemic but seem to be missing in action,” he said.
“It is not right that people are left to fester for hours, sometimes days, in A&E waiting rooms in pain when it’s their taxes that are used to fund the health service and while they could be missing out on work at a time when the cost-of-living is sadly on the increase.
“The Labour Government in Cardiff Bay have got to get a grip on the NHS and stop breaking all the wrong records.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.