'We’re talking about rationing healthcare' says senior Welsh doctor

Dr Phil Banfield says the Welsh Government must have an honest conversation with the public Credit: PA

The Welsh Government must have an open and honest conversation with the Welsh public over NHS services, a senior doctor has said.

The warning comes as the latest NHS Wales statistics show waiting times within Welsh hospitals are longer than ever.

Dr Philip Banfield, chair of the Welsh Consultants Committee for the British Medical Association, told ITV Wales: "I think we have to face the harsh reality that we're talking about rationing healthcare.

"That conversation needs to be an honest conversation between Welsh Government and the public.

"A conversation needs to take place about what will and what won't be provided."

The call for honesty has been echoed by the Welsh NHS Confederation. 

Responding to the latest statistics, the confederation's director Darren Hughes said: "The NHS in Wales is currently facing unsustainable pressures, from all angles – problems facing social care, the ongoing impact of Covid-19, increasing demand for urgent and emergency care, as well as primary care, staff shortages and of course, the backlog of treatment.

"These statistics show the unrelenting high levels of demand the ambulance service and emergency departments are facing, with October seeing the highest number of immediately life-threatening (‘red’) calls made to the ambulance service since records began.

"We need to be honest with the public that winter is going to be extremely difficult. 

“The whole system is working together to find solutions to solve the problems, improve patient flow, manage high demand and keep people out of hospital where possible, but the pressure on the system is higher than at any other point during the pandemic."

Latest NHS statistics at a glance

The Welsh Government has stressed that people should consider the best option for the care they need and whether they need to attend an accident and emergency department. 

Welsh health minister Eluned Morgan told ITV Wales: “It is going to be very difficult to clear the backlog over the winter months. 

“Obviously, we are putting everything in place to make sure we can clear things as soon as possible.

“What we have is a whole system problem. From the emergency situation to the pressure on GPs, but also the fact we have such a fragile care service. 

“We are spending a lot of time making sure we can sure up the care service in Wales."