Welsh NHS records worst ever A&E performance figures

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Last month, just 68.7% of patients spent less than four hours in an A&E department

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The worst ever performance figures have been recorded by hospital accident and emergency departments in Wales, according to new data.

The Welsh Ambulance Service, which is seeking help from the military for the third time since the pandemic began, recorded its second worst response times to the most urgent “red” calls.

The figures also show another record-breaking month for people on NHS waiting lists, with more than 600,000 waiting for treatment.

Last month, just 68.7% of patients spent less than four hours in an A&E department before being admitted, transferred or discharged – well below the 95% target.

And nearly 8,000 people had to wait more than 12 hours. The target says no-one should wait that long.

The performance by the Welsh Ambulance Service with response times to its priority calls was the second worst on record.

Only 57.6% of these immediately life-threatening calls saw teams arrive on the scene within eight minutes and the target of 65% has not been met for over a year.

More than 643,000 people are waiting for treatment to begin – the highest since records began in 2011.

In July 2021, nearly 240,000 patients had been waiting more than 36 weeks, compared with just 25,634 in February 2020.

Across Wales 62% of people started treatment within 62 days of cancer first being suspected. The target is 75%.

The Welsh Government said it had recently invested £240 million to help the NHS recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and cut waiting times.

“Waiting times remain above pre-pandemic levels and ambulance response times continue to be below target levels,” a spokesman said.

“Pressures on our emergency services continue to remain high. There were more emergency ambulance calls in August 2021 than in any other August.

“We have made £25 million funding available to improve delivery of urgent and emergency care services.

“We encourage people to consider the best options for care, and not necessarily head to their local emergency department.”

During a debate in the Senedd on Wednesday, Health and Social Care Minister Eluned Morgan rejected calls from the Conservatives to declare an emergency in the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Shadow health minster Russell George said: “We are seeing both emergency and elective treatment in the NHS reaching its limit right now.

“This is leading to unacceptable waits for patients and intolerable burnout for hard-working staff.

“However, this is not the new normal. Not long before the pandemic, the Labour-run NHS was regularly breaking all the wrong records.

“Among the Covid-related issues affecting public services, there are deep-rooted problems that have not been tackled in the devolution era.”

Darren Hughes, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, which represents health boards, said staff were working “relentlessly to cope with current levels of demand”.

“Although average waiting times for treatment remain above pre-pandemic levels, we are seeing a downward trend,” he said.

“There’s no doubt that coronavirus continues to have a significant impact on the delivery of health and care services across Wales.

“Rising cases have compounded existing pressures on services, meaning some difficult decisions have had to be made as many services are under more pressure now than they were at the height of the pandemic.

“Staff are doing all they can to continue delivering care for those who need it most and are exhausted after a challenging 18 months.”