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  1. James Crichton-Smith

Slight improvement in Welsh A and E waiting time figures

Credit: PA

The latest A+E waiting time figures for Wales are out today and how a slight improvement when compared to the same time last year.

For the whole of Wales, the percentage of patients being seen within four hours in February was 80%. Last year it was 77% for the same month.

In England, that figure in January stood at 85.1%.

It is worth remembering, though, that the Welsh Government target is for 95% of patients to be seen within 4 hours. This is something didn't happen for the whole of 2016.

Fewer people attended A+E departments in Wales in February 2017, compared to February 2016. This year, the total number was around 72,000, compared to around 78,000 the year before.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Hard working emergency department staff, as well as those delivering care to people in other parts of the urgent and emergency care system, have been under sustained pressure since the beginning of December.

“Careful joint planning between Local Health Boards, the Welsh Ambulance Service, Local Authorities and other key partners, coupled with an additional £50 million Welsh Government investment has largely helped to manage significant peaks in both the numbers and complexity of patients who access A&E services over the winter period.”

Welsh researchers discover powerful new way to produce malaria drug

Scientists in Wales have discovered a new way of making a drug commonly used in the fight against malaria around the world.

Credit: James Gathany/Cdc/Handout/DPA/PA Images

The method, devised by researchers at Cardiff University, significantly reduces the time, and cost, taken to produce artemisinin, which is recommended by the World Health Organisation for treatment of all cases of severe malaria.

The worldwide supply of the drug relies on it being extracted from the plant Artemisia annua. It's a lengthy process, with 13 steps, so chemists began looking at a way of efficiently producing it in a laboratory.

There is an urgent need to produce the drug at low cost, because the current demand for artemisinin comes mainly from the developing world. The new method means the drug can be created in just four steps.

Our new method has essentially bypassed a number of key steps on the way to producing artemisinin.

What we're left with is a novel and powerful approach for producing the drug that does not rely on extraction from large amounts of plants. Our approach could reduce market fluctuations in the supply chain of artemisinin.

– Professor Rudolf Allemann, School of Chemistry, Cardiff University
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