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Welsh hospitals spend over 1,700 days under ‘extreme pressure’ in just one year

Hospitals in Wales operated under ‘extreme pressure’ for 1,767 days in one year, according to information requested by the Welsh Conservatives – a 205 day (13%) increase compared to the previous 12 months.

The 17 hospitals, spread across six of Wales’ seven health boards, spent an average of 104 days under ‘extreme pressure’.

The worst performing health board was Betsi Cadwaladr UHB at 568 days, an increase of 69 days (14%) since 2016/17. The struggling North Wales health board has spent the last three and a half years in Special Measures, under direct Welsh Government control.

Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, under Betsi Cadwaladr management, spent more time under ‘extreme pressure’ – 216 days – than any other hospital, meaning they spent 60% of the year in the highest state of escalation.

The biggest increase for a health board, however, was actually recorded by Abertawe Bro Morgannwg UHB, where the number of days rose by a staggering 72%, from 296 to 508 days.

Their Singleton Hospital saw the largest increase for an individual site, more than doubling their days operating under extreme pressure from 68 to 155.

12 of the 17 hospitals recorded an increase. Cardiff & Vale and Cwm Taf health boards each had two hospitals on the list, but all recorded improvements. Ysbyty Gwynedd was the only other to see a drop in their days, but still spent nearly half of the year in a state of emergency.

Welsh health boards have four different levels of escalation which define pressures on emergency services and how hospitals should respond to these pressures. ‘Level 1’ – the lowest escalation – is described as ‘Steady State’, while ‘level 4’ – the highest – is described as ‘Extreme Pressure’.

The data covers the November 2017 to October 2018, with comparisons made to the same period the preceding year.

Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Angela Burns AM, said:

“There are several major hospitals in Wales spending most of the year in a state of emergency. This is not sustainable and it is not safe.

“This demonstrates the NHS is being grossly mismanaged by the Welsh Labour Government and the people of Wales are paying the price.

“Again the people of North Wales are the ones suffering, but the large increase of pressure put on hospitals in the Swansea region should be setting off alarm bells in Cardiff Bay.

“We need better planning, accelerated recruitment, and more beds – all of which have deteriorated significantly under Welsh Labour’s poor treatment of our NHS.

“Patients and staff deserve better than this sorry state of affairs.”