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Doctors warn of 'extremely serious problems' as figures reveal A&E targets missed again

Credit: ITV News

Welsh hospitals have failed to meet the target for patients to be seen in A&E within four hours, figures have revealed.

Data released by the Welsh Government show the percentage of patients spending less than four hours in A&E fell in February and was the lowest since records began.

It also showed the number of patients spending more than 12 hours in A&E decreased slightly from January, but was the second highest on record.

Credit: PA

The figures showed a 3.8% increase in the number of patients attending A&E units across Wales at 2,715 per day.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine said today's figures are "unacceptable" and patients and staff will "continue to suffer" unless hospitals are given more resource.

This unacceptable performance is becoming the new norm for Emergency Departments in Wales. For the safety of our patients, we cannot allow this to continue.

Today’s figures are a symptom of the extremely serious problems NHS Wales continues to face. We have a lack of staff, a lack of hospital beds and a lack of social care to meet the needs of our population.

At the heart of this is a patient. A patient who suffers long waits in Emergency Departments – sometimes 12 hours or even more.

Furthermore, these conditions bring stress, anxiety and exhaustion to clinical staff trying to treat patients to the best of their abilities in these difficult conditions.

Patients will continue to suffer, and we will continue to struggle with the retention of vital staff if we do not resource our health and social care services sufficiently.

We hope that the Government’s plan of how they will spend the £100 million to transform health and social services in Wales takes this into consideration. Wales’ transformation plans need to address the lack of capacity in the entire health and social care system if we are going to improve patient care.

– Dr Robin Roop, Vice President of RCEM Wales

The Welsh Ambulance Service received 1,369 calls per day, which is the second highest average on record.

Calls to the ambulance service are graded in order of severity - red, amber and green - with a red call considered to be life threatening. The target response time for a red call is eight minutes.

An amber call has no target response time.

February's figures show more than half of all amber calls made to the ambulance service resulted in a wait of 30 minutes or more.

Compared with the previous year, this figure was 24.9%.

Credit: ITV News
54.5%
Amber calls that resulted in a wait of 30 minutes or more in Feb '18
24.9%
Amber calls that resulted in a wait of 30 minutes or more in Feb '17
38,323
Number of emergency calls to the ambulance service in February
Vaughan Gething said there has been the highest proportion of elderly patients admitted for 'many years'

The Welsh Health Secretary said the figures confirm it is the "busiest winter on record".

With record levels of emergency admissions, we’ve seen the highest levels of flu and proportion of elderly patients admitted for many years.

Despite this sustained pressure the vast majority of patients have received timely, professional care. I would like to thank NHS and social care staff and volunteers for their dedication in delivering care during this challenging period.

Despite sustained cuts to our funding by the UK Government, our investment in the Welsh NHS has never been higher; with spend per person increasing faster here in 2016-17 than in the rest of the UK. We have also invested at record levels in the NHS workforce. We recently announced a £100million fund to transform the way health and social services are delivered in Wales to ensure the NHS is fit for the future.

– Vaughan Gething AM, Health Secretary

The percentage of people starting cancer treatment within the target time fell in January.

85.3% of patients newly diagnosed with cancer via the 'Urgent Suspected Cancer' route started treatment within the target time of 62 days - below the target of 95%.