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Welsh government ‘have let patients down’, as one in seven faced 12-hour delay in A&Es in Wales in December

18 January 2024

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has said that the Welsh Government ‘have let patients down’ by failing to publish a winter plan, as data show one in seven patients faced a 12-hour delay in A&Es in Wales in December.

The Emergency Department performance statistics for December 2023, published today (18 January) by the Welsh government show:

  • 62,986 people attended major A&Es (Type 1 Emergency Departments) in December.
  • More than one in seven (2%) patients were delayed by 12-hours or more at a major A&Es (equal to 9,562 patients).
  • One in four (7%) patients were delayed eight hours or more at a major emergency department (equal to 15,559 patients).
  • Overall, 5% of patients in major A&Es were admitted, transferred, or discharged within four hours from arrival (equal to 27,388 patients).
    • This means that more than two in five patients waited more than four hours in major A&Es in Wales.

Dr Rob Perry, Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Wales, commented:

“These data are extremely worrying, now as temperatures continue to drop and with the additional toll of winter viruses on A&E departments, the situation is likely to worsen.

“Staff working in Emergency Medicine are doing the best they can to provide quality care, but they are operating in extremely challenging conditions. The emotional toll of working in overcrowded A&Es, while trying to prioritise patient care with limited resources, cannot be underestimated.

“It is hugely distressing for our members to care for and witness patients, particularly the elderly and most vulnerable, face extended wait times. It is no wonder our workforce is burnt-out and demoralised.

“The Welsh government did not answer our calls to put a winter plan in place to protect patients and support staff during these colder months, which bring their predictable challenges. In failing to do so they have let patients down this winter and failed to provide the urgent resources and support that A&E staff desperately need to mitigate any potential harm that delays bring.

“We need to #ResuscitateEmergencyCare, it’s what our members and their patients deserve. The government must now listen to our calls to adopt our priorities and begin to tackle the deep-rooted issues facing emergency care.”

Dr Perry reiterates his call that everyone who is eligible should get vaccinated against flu and/or Covid-19 this winter to protect themselves and those around them.

Dr Perry said: “At this time of year, respiratory viruses such flu and Covid-19 put additional pressure on already stretched A&E departments by increasing staff absences and the likelihood of ward closures. They also put our most vulnerable patients at risk of hospital acquired infection. We encourage anyone who is eligible, to get vaccinated and protect themselves this winter.”

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

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

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