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Welsh A&E units in a “state of crisis”, says senior Welsh doctor – Welsh Conservatives respond

A senior Welsh doctor has said that A&E units across Wales are in a “state of crisis” this winter, fairing “worse [than] England” in some areas.

Welsh Conservatives have responded to the comments, made by Dr Robin Roop, Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), by saying that the Welsh NHS needs an all-year-round solution to the problems facing A&E.

Angela Burns AM, Welsh Conservative Shadow Secretary for Health, said that Dr Roop’s comments reinforced the severity of the situation in Wales, and called for more investment in primary and social care.

Ms Burns said: “It is no secret that A&E services across the country are under pressure this winter, but to hear one of our leading physicians say that units in Wales are faring worse than their English equivalents really hammers home the severity of the situation here.

“Months ago, in an inquiry, the RCEM voiced their concerns about health boards’ lack of preparedness for winter, but it seems the Welsh Government did not listen.

“After nearly two decades in charge of the health service, Welsh Labour has a lot to answer for. Wales now has the highest rate of excess winter deaths in the country – higher than any region in England; A&E waiting times haven’t been met since 2008; and the number of NHS hospital beds have plummeted by 30% since devolution began.

“Though amplified, the problems facing A&E units are not isolated to winter, and we urgently need workable solutions to alleviate pressures all year round, so that patients can get the best possible care.

“This should begin with greater investment in primary and social care, which will help physicians and care workers to better manage patients’ non-life threatening conditions so that they do not needlessly become the responsibility of A&E services.”

Dr Robin Roop, Royal College of Emergency Medicine in Wales’s comments in full:

“Emergency care in Wales is in a state of crisis. Welsh emergency departments are fighting unprecedented levels of demand resulting in declining four-hour standards, overcrowding and ‘exit block’. Performance is as bad, if not worse, as England, in some areas.

“Our staff are struggling to cope with the intense demands being put upon them and, more importantly, patient safety is undoubtedly compromised during this busy time.

“The need for wider investment in emergency care as well as in primary and social care has never been more vital so that our fragile emergency systems are protected and our patients receive the best possible care.”