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RCEM Wales calls on the Welsh Government to ‘publish a comprehensive winter plan’

20 October 2023

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has urged the Welsh Government to ‘publish a comprehensive winter plan’ as the latest Welsh A&E data once again shows that around one in six patients attending a major A&E in Wales waited more than 12 hours.

The Emergency Department performance statistics for September 2023, published by the Welsh government on 19 October 2023 show:

  • 65,648 people attended major A&Es (Type 1) in September
  • 14.6% of major A&E attendances waited more than 12 hours (9,600 patients).
  • This means nearly 1 in 6 patients were delayed by 12-hours or more.
  • It is the third largest number of patients who waited this long for any month so far this year.
  • The number of people waiting more than 12 hours has increased by 169.4% compared with September 2019.

Dr Suresh Pillai, Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Wales, commented: “We remain concerned about the long delays for patient care in Wales. Winter is fast approaching, and we are anxious that we are not fully prepared.

“We urge the Welsh Government to publish a comprehensive winter plan to prepare for the challenging period ahead.

“This must include our five priorities to #ResuscitateEmergencyCare – but as we head into winter particular focus needs to be on rapidly increasing bed numbers to reduce unsafe levels of bed occupancy.”

RCEM Wales stands by its claims that the published Emergency Department performance data do not reflect the true waits faced by patients.

‘Breach exemptions’ are patients who attend Emergency Departments (and whose attendance is included in published data) but for whom the clock is stopped before four-hours.

RCEM has created a set of questions and answers to explain the issue and the data we obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request.

As a result, the length of time that these patients wait in the Emergency Department is excluded from the data. The figures therefore show that a sizeable proportion of patients’ waiting times appear to be misrepresented in the data.

RCEM Wales continues to call on the Welsh government to publish fully transparent and meaningful data – by either removing the policy of ‘breach exemptions’ altogether or publishing the data before the ‘breach exemptions’ are applied.

The true scale of long waits needs to be understood to tackle the issues, particularly as we head into a challenging winter.

You can see more data, visualisations and graphs on our website here:

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