Welsh hospitals appeal to families to care for patients at home

The call follows a warning about severe pressures on NHS and care services Credit: Media Wales

The NHS and councils across west Wales have appealed to people to care for loved ones at home to free up beds for patients in need of them.

Services in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire warned they are currently experiencing unprecedented demand for their services.

They say demand is having a serious impact on hospital emissions, leading to significant delays, bed shortages and ambulances queuing to discharge patients at A&E departments.

In a joint statement, Hywel Dda University Health Board, the Welsh Ambulance Service, and councils in Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion have asked relatives to step in to help. 

The statement said: "The difficulty in discharging medically-fit patients from hospital – many of whom have complex personal circumstances and needs – is leading to significant bed shortages, and consequently, lengthy ambulance waits at the ‘front door’ of A&E departments, which mean that paramedics are unable to respond to other 999 calls in the community.

"Social care and health teams are doing everything possible to support people who are well enough to leave hospital but need ongoing care.

"Priority is being given to the most vulnerable, and alternative health and care packages are being offered as a short-term measure. More carers and health staff are also being recruited to support people in need."

The statement goes on to argue that spending as little time in hospital as possible is better for patients, protecting them from hospital-acquired infections, falls and a loss of independence, and means that NHS beds can be freed up for others with urgent care needs.

Ambulances queued outside hospitals have been a regular site during the pandemic Credit: Media Wales

It adds: "If you have a relative or loved one in hospital who is well enough to go home, but is waiting to be discharged with home care and community health support, you may be able to help them to get home more quickly if you and your family are in a position to support them at home.

"If your relative is waiting for a formal package of care, you may be able to offer support and care on a short term, temporary arrangement or you might want to consider whether your loved one could be supported in a temporary residential or nursing care setting. 

“If you feel that this is an option that you could consider, please speak to the ward manager or your social worker to explore further."

The warning follows a series of concerns at hospitals in Wales, with high demand on services, poor staff morale and ambulance waiting times frequently highlighted. 

On Wednesday, two reports were leaked to the media suggesting serious concerns from doctors at the Grange Hospital in Cwmbran and Wrexham Maelor Hospital. The reports had been carried out by the Royal College of Physicians.

Last month the Welsh Government announced an extra £48m for social care in Wales, with the money aimed at helping local authorities deal with some of the challenges caused by the pandemic.