Nearly 1,400 days of ‘extreme’ emergency pressures for Welsh NHS hospitals recorded in 12 months

Welsh NHS hospitals operated under ‘extreme pressure’ on 1,395 days over a one-year period, new information (attached) obtained by Welsh Conservatives has revealed.

Writing to Darren Millar AM – the Conservative representing Clwyd West – Welsh Labour’s Cabinet Health Secretary Vaughan Gething AM confirmed that 13 hospitals across six health boards each spent on average 107 days in the highest state of escalation.

Welsh health boards have four different levels of escalation which define pressures on emergency services and how hospitals should respond to these pressures. ‘Level 1’ – the lowest escalation – is described as ‘Steady State’, while ‘level 4’ – the highest – is described as ‘Extreme Pressure’.

The health board worst affected by the highest escalation was Betsi Cadwaladr, which recorded 500 days of extreme pressure.

Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, a hospital managed by Betsi Cadwaladr – now more than two-and-a-half years under direct Welsh Labour Government control – spent the longest of any hospital in the extreme pressure category of escalation. This is 270 days more than its nearest rival on this measure, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg.

University Hospital Wales, which sits within Cardiff and Vale health board, reported 201 days of extreme escalation – the hospital second-worst affected by level 4 categorisation.

Aneurin Bevan health board reported the fewest days – 129 – spent in the extreme category out of all the health boards. Powys Teaching health board does not feature in this data because it does not operate a Major A&E department.

The data is based on a 12-month snapshot from 01/11/2016 to 31/10/2017.

Commenting on the figures, Darren Millar AM said:

“These figures are truly alarming and show a health service operating in a near-permanent state of emergency.

“That Betsi Cadwaladr has seen the most frequent extreme escalation of all the health boards, despite being in special measures for more than two-and-a-half years, shows that this is a crisis of Welsh Labour’s making.

“For the sake of desperately ill patients and overworked staff, this cannot be allowed to continue. I will be raising this with the Cabinet Secretary and expect a comprehensive explanation as to how he plans to de-escalate the situation.”

Angela Burns AM, Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Secretary, said:

“These are staggering figures and lay bare the extraordinary pressures faced by frontline Welsh NHS staff throughout the year.

“Having to operate at such an intensity for protracted periods is neither safe for patients nor fair to staff, many of whom are close to breaking point.

“We need better planning, more recruitment and more beds – all of which have deteriorated significantly under Welsh Labour’s mismanagement of our NHS.

“Patients and staff deserve so much better.”