- Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Emily Morgan
Last month saw the highest number of people visiting A&E for any December on record, figures released by the Welsh Government have revealed.
The performance for 95% of patients to be seen within the target of four hours was the lowest since March 2016.
Statistics published today also show those aged 85 or over attending A&E was the highest it has ever been.
The figures come as a number of Consultants in Wales wrote to the First Minister warning him they "are severely and chronically under-resourced" with "neither sufficient staff, nor sufficient beds."
Since the New Year, The Royal College of Emergency Medicine in Wales warned that patient safety was being 'compromised daily' due to extreme pressures within departments.
The Welsh Ambulance Service said it saw a 170% increase in calls over the first four hours of New Year's Day compared to a normal day.
The average number of patients visiting A&E in December was 2,656 - 3.8% lower than the month before - but 5.4% higher than December 2016.
The Welsh Government recently announced an extra £10m of funding to help relieve pressures on the health service - from primary care through to social services.
There was an increase in the number of calls to the ambulance service - of 10.7% from the previous month.
70% of emergency responses to 'immediately life threatening calls arrived within eight minutes which is above the target of 65% - but down from 73.3% in November 2017.
"We are severely and chronically under-resourced"
Emergency hospital consultants have warned safety is currently being compromised in "all departments" to an "unacceptable degree."
In a letter by 46 Emergency Department physicians and consultants it says they felt "compelled...to speak out in support of staff...and to share the very serious concerns we have for the safety of our patients."
The consultants warned planning ahead of the winter have "fallen well short of what was required to maintain adequate care."
The letter also highlighted some personal experiences from doctors and medical staff:
- More patients in the ED waiting for ward beds than the ED can actually accommodate, with no space to see any newly presenting patients
- Staff arriving for shifts to find the patients they cared for the previous day (and often the day before) still in the ED
- Makeshift arrangements made to accommodate extra patients in hospitals, often with suboptimal staffing
- Multiple ED staff in tears at work as they do not feel they can deliver the care their patients need
- EDs in the precarious position of having nowhere to treat a newly presenting critically ill patient
- Multiple ambulances waiting outside every ED, with a knock-on effect on WAST’s service delivery to the Welsh public