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Wales sees worst Emergency Department performance for second consecutive month

August 19th 2021, 2:23 pm by Arran Hodges

Emergency Department performance figures published today by the Welsh Government for July 2021 show the worst four-hour performance ever recorded for the second consecutive month.

The data for July 2021 show that there were 69,741 attendances to major emergency departments across Wales, with 16,357 attending Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board emergency departments.

July 2021 saw the worst four-hour performance since records began, with only 60.7% of patients admitted, transferred, or discharged within four hours. This figure is 1.1 percentage points lower than the previous lowest figure 61.8, recorded in June 2021. Over 27,000 patients were delayed by four hours or more.

Data for July 2021 also show the worst 12-hour performance on record. 7,017 patients stayed in an Emergency Department for 12 hours or more, equal to one in ten patients.

13,629 patients were delayed by eight hours or more in major Emergency Departments in Wales, this is equal to nearly one in five patients.

Across Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, 54.5% of patients spend less than the 4 hour target time in a major emergency department, the second worst in Wales as per the figures given here.

Dr Suresh Pillai, Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Wales, said:

“There can be no doubt about it, the health service is in a severely challenging situation. The current pressures on staff and departments are unrelenting. Performance has deteriorated for the second consecutive month.
“When performance deteriorates, it is patients who may suffer, and their safety put at risk. Longer waiting times can lead to worse health outcomes. With covid still present in the community, crowded spaces can put those who are yet to be vaccinated and vulnerable patients at risk. It is unacceptable, our duty is to our patients, to deliver high-quality effective care, right now, the current pressures are challenging our ability to do so.
“We are quickly approaching Autumn and Winter when these pressures and demand are likely to further increase. Staff are already facing burnout, exhaustion, stress and moral injury. The health service and its workforce need the assurance that there is a robust and comprehensive plan to manage this likely increase in demand and provide adequate resources for staff and departments.
“The government must look on the data, the record Emergency Department attendances and deteriorating performance, the record numbers of patients waiting for surgery, the pressures on GPs, and realise that without a comprehensive plan and substantial support there is a threat that the health service, in the face of a harsh winter, may not be able to cope.
“In the meantime, NHS Boards must expand capacity where possible, continue driving infection prevention control measures, and ensure there are clear lines of communication between specialities and departments to maximise flow. Life may have returned to normal for some people, but for health workers, it is a really difficult time.”

The Welsh Government has released a statement regarding the latest NHS Wales performance data. It said:

“Waiting times for treatment continue to grow. However, it is encouraging to see progress being made with the number of patients waiting over 52 weeks falling for the third month in a row. We also saw the largest number of specialist consultations completed and treatments started in any month since the start of the pandemic.
The total number of patients starting their first cancer treatment and the number of patients starting treatment within the target time were the second highest since the current records began.
Today we announced a further £140m to help NHS Wales tackle the treatment backlog built up during the Covid pandemic. This is on top of the initial £100m announced in May.
Pressures on our emergency services are also growing. The ambulance service received more calls last month than in any month since the pandemic began. Attendance at emergency departments was also the highest since the start of the pandemic.
We encourage people to consider the best options for care, and not necessarily head to their local emergency department. To get the right care, first time people can also use the online 111 service and their local pharmacist where appropriate.
Last month the Health Minister announced plans to transform the delivery of urgent and emergency care, supported by £25m a year. We are working with health boards to deliver these plans well ahead of winter.”