'Immediate actions' to tackle extreme A&E pressures

Wales' Health Minister has set out "immediate actions" to reduce the extreme pressures on emergency health services.

Mark Drakeford is focusing on tackling "lengthy patient handover delays at A&E departments" and freeing-up beds by getting patients to leave hospital quickly when they are ready.

He says all local health boards have submitted plans on how they will improve.

Last month, doctors wrote to the Health Minister warning that emergency departments "are at the point of meltdown".

Earlier in March, patients had to wait in ambulances outside hospitals due to packed A&E departments.

Read More: Doctors' letter warns emergency departments 'seriously overcrowded'

Read More: 999 delays feared as ambulances queue outside hospitals

Over the past six months, the demand for emergency care services has risen steeply, due mainly to the number of acutely ill elderly patients being admitted to A&E departments.

More work needs to be undertaken to free up beds by ensuring when patients no longer require hospital treatment, they are discharged in a timely manner.

I am also keen to address the consistent finding that too many people are attending our A&E departments unnecessarily.

The way we introduce a non-emergency helpline in Wales will be vital and I have asked for plans for an NHS 111 number to be accelerated where possible.

– Mark Drakeford, Welsh Government Health Minister

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Elderly hospital-leaving warning

Wales' Health Minister has set out plans to reduce the pressure on A&E departments here. The charity Age Cymru is warning that older patients must not be pressured to leave hospital too soon, and without the right support.