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Reducing distressingly long Emergency Department wait times will be ‘huge mountain to climb’, says RCEM

Thursday 21 March

Collaboration and support are required to reduce “distressingly” long waits in Welsh Emergency Departments.

This is the response from The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) as data shows one in seven people waited twelve hours or longer to be seen in Welsh Emergency Departments in February.

Monthly NHS data released today – Thursday 21 March, shows that in February one in seven people (9,496) attending major Emergency Departments in Wales waited twelve hours or longer to be seen.

This figure has increased dramatically by 210% since February 2017, when the figure was 3,059.

The data also shows in February, 42% of people attending Emergency Departments (26,235) waited four hours or longer to be seen.

The news follows the publication of a set of guidelines to improve access to Emergency Care in Wales.

The quality statement, entitled Care in Emergency Departments, was released on Friday (15 March) by Health Minister Eluned Morgan, and called for a “zero-tolerance” approach to people waiting twelve hours or longer to be seen in Emergency Departments.

Dr Rob Perry, RCEM’s Vice President for Wales said: “We are all in agreement that no-one should wait more than twelve hours to be seen in an Emergency Department and we applaud the Welsh Government for stating its commitment to address this issue.

“However, these data put into sharp focus the magnitude of the problem and shows that combatting it will be a huge mountain to climb, for both health boards and staff already pushed to the limit. It is particularly concerning to see how much more commonplace twelve-hour waits have become since 2017.

“Collaboration, resourcing, and support is what is needed to meet these shared goals. These extended wait times are dangerous and distressing for both the people enduring them and staff, and they cannot continue.”

The full data set can be found on the RCEM website and graph illustrating the data can be found here.

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