'Emergency care in Wales is in a state of crisis,' says senior A&E doctor

Accident & Emergency units across Wales are in a state of crisis. Credit: PA

A senior Welsh doctor has told ITV Wales that Accident & Emergency units across Wales are in a "state of crisis."

Dr Robin Roop, the vice president of Royal College of Emergency Medicine in Wales says patient safety is compromised and staff are struggling to cope with the intense demands.

In recent days, the NHS in England has been under the spotlight after the British Red Cross described the situation there as a "humanitarian crisis," but Dr Roop says that in some areas performance "is as bad, if not worse, as England."

A string of ambulances outside a Welsh hospital last week Credit: ITV Wales

Read more: A+E units across Wales under pressure after holidays

Hospitals across the country are facing pressures this winter, but tonight's comments are stronger than those usually made about the situation in Welsh emergency units at this time of year.

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.

– Dr Robin Roop, Royal College of Emergency Medicine in Wales

The Welsh Government says it does not agree with Dr Roop's comments.

To describe emergency care in Wales as in a state of crisis is simply not accurate. Patient safety is our primary concern and is central to the application of the national emergency pressures escalation plan.

Health and social care systems across the United Kingdom have been under significant pressure over recent weeks. It is testament to the commitment and skill of doctors, nurses, social workers, paramedics and other key staff that despite these difficult circumstances, the vast majority of patients continue to receive the best possible care in a professional and timely manner.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

The Welsh Government says it will continue to work with the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and health experts to improve the delivery of urgent and emergency care.

Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire/PA Images

Shadow Health Secretary, Plaid Cymru's Rhyn ap Iowerth, says Wales's emergency departments find it difficult to cope with increases in demand as they are under strain all year.

No-one wants to speak of a crisis in our NHS – it’s worrying for patients and demoralising for staff. But when those words come from one of our leading emergency physicians, there’s no ducking the severity of the situation.

The key words here are that ‘staff are struggling to cope’. Our excellent NHS staff just want to provide the best possible emergency care and treatment, and time and time again we hear them saying they’re overstretched and under-resourced.

We often speak of winter pressures, and it’s undoubtedly it can be one of the busier times of year, but the truth is that emergency departments are under strain 12 months a year, and find it difficult to deal with any surges in demand.

Strategic investment must be targeted well, not only in emergency departments themselves, but in strengthening primary care to take the pressure off A&E and in social care to allow a better movement of patients through the system.

– Rhun ap Iowerth AM, Shadow Health Secretary

Patients have been urged to seek appropriate care using the Choose Well guidelines or by calling NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

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