North Wales health board postpones all but urgent procedures as they ‘struggle to cope with demand’
North Wales’ health board has said that they are postponing all but the most urgent procedures as they are “struggling to cope” with demand.
Betsi Cadwaladr announced a “critical incident today”.
The cold weather, parents’ concerns about Strep A, the winter viruses and nurses’ strike meant that patients were facing very long delays, they said.
“The demand on services right across the health system over recent days has been unprecedented due to a combination of winter viruses, parents seeking help due to concerns about Strep A and injuries associated with the cold weather,” they said.
“This has meant extremely long waits for patients to be seen – particularly at our hospital Emergency Departments. The Royal College of Nursing industrial action that is due to take place again tomorrow and the Wales Ambulance Service action on Wednesday will limit our ability to respond even further.
“A lack of available beds in our hospitals is currently leading to unprecedented ambulance delays across the Health Board and we are working closely with Local Authority colleagues to support medically fit patients to be discharged from hospital. Similar pressures are being experienced in other Health Boards and English Trusts.
“This morning, we have declared an internal critical incident, which means we are struggling to cope with the prolonged, significant demand on the health system in North Wales.
“As a result, we have postponed all but the most urgent procedures in our hospitals. We regret that this will impact on a number of patients who were due to receive planned care over the next few days and sincerely apologise to all those affected, who will be rescheduled as soon as possible.”
The health board said that it was an “exceptionally challenging time for colleagues across our health services” and were hugely grateful for the continued efforts being made in such difficult circumstances.
They added that they were working hard to plan and prepare for how we continue to run urgent services during the upcoming days of industrial action.
Discussions with unions are ongoing to ensure that there are sufficient numbers of appropriately qualified staff available for areas where the failure to provide services would result in a direct danger to life, they said.
Staff working in these services will be able to strike only if there is sufficient cover available to ensure patient safety.
“As last week, we will contact patients directly if any services they are due to access on days of industrial action are affected,” they said.
“We are urging members of the public who need help to contact 111 in the first instance to be advised about the most appropriate service, which might be self-care at home, a visit to the pharmacy, a GP appointment, a Minor Injuries Unit or, in life-threatening circumstances, the hospital Emergency Department.
“As always, our Emergency Departments will remain open and will see patients in order of clinical priority. We regret that we anticipate that those who do attend will face extremely long waits to be seen while staff on duty do all they can to keep patients safe.”
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.