NHS BOSSES have called for increased investment in social care to reduce backlogs in Welsh hospitals.
The calls come off the back of the latest NHS Wales performance figures, which showed just 48 per cent of immediately life-threatening 999 calls saw an ambulance arrive within eight minutes, and a third of patients were waiting more than four hours for treatment in A&E.
The Welsh Government said the NHS “continues to face unprecedented demand” and that work was being done to improve ambulance performance figures.
Darren Hughes, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation said the capacity of the Welsh health and social care system needed to be improved.
“We know there’s a huge amount going on to try and improve patient flow through the health and care system, to in turn reduce ambulance handover delays, emergency department waits and increase capacity for scheduled care.
“There’s no doubt that staff working on the ground are doing all they can to treat patients as quickly and safely as possible, and NHS leaders understand the frustration of staff who feel their efforts can’t go far enough.
“To make further progress in tackling the backlog of treatment, further capacity must be created in the system, starting with social care.
“Without a sustainable, long-term funding strategy for social care to support people stay well at home and enable patients to leave hospital, there is only so far efforts can go.”
Welsh Conservative and shadow health minister Russell George MS said: “When we see nearly a quarter of the population on an NHS waiting list, the slowest ambulance response times on record, and Britain’s worst A&E waits, I think it is more than fair to say that NHS Wales’ ability to treat patients stands upon the edge of a knife.
“All of this is compounded with a near-nationwide nurses strike and a secondary waiting list where an additional 460,000 people are waiting for follow-up appointments for their treatment, which is clearly affecting the wellbeing of staff as well as patients.
“I simply do not understand why Labour ministers are ignoring are calls for surgical hubs and winter war rooms to deal with these dangerously long waiting times when we see them leading to very visible progress in England.”
And Jane Dodds MS, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said: “These figures should set emergency lights flashing for the Welsh Government.
“Labour has often used the pandemic as an excuse but ambulance services were struggling in Wales long before Covid.
“The significant delays in ambulance response times are most often due to backlogs at A&E departments resulting in patients having to wait in ambulances outside.
“What we need to see is real investment in primary health services in local communities, including our GPs to prevent these build-ups at emergency departments and to prevent people from falling into such ill health they require emergency treatment.
“Just this month we revealed Labour aren’t hitting the 200 GPs a year target Wales needs.
“Labour must get a better handle of this crisis as soon as possible. Swift action might be the difference between life and death.”