Grange Hospital urgent appeal as A&E waiting times hit 'record levels'

The Grange Hospital has seen a record number of attendances at its A&E. Credit: ITV Wales

A health board has been forced to put out an urgent plea for help as waiting times at A&E hit "record levels".

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board declared a state of "business continuity" on Tuesday night (March 29) amid "sustained and unprecedented pressure".

In a statement, the health board which covers Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen, wrote: "Despite actions to try to stabilise our services, today we have had to declare a state of ‘business continuity’.

"Our Emergency Department at The Grange University Hospital is extremely busy, and we have seen a record number of attendances, and waits to see a doctor, in some cases, are greater than 14 hours where the patient’s condition isn’t life threatening.

"We have very few beds available across our hospitals to accommodate patients requiring admission.

"We need to ask for your support and to only attend The Grange University Hospital if it is life threatening or you have a serious injury."

The plea, shared on Twitter, attracted replies from people sharing their experiences.

Christopher Binnie wrote on Wednesday morning (March 30): "I'm currently in A&E with my dad (suspected stroke). Arrived at 9pm yesterday. It's 5.30am now. I guess I have a few more hours to wait."

Elaine Leonard Middleton wrote: "13 hours my 85yo mum was sat in waiting room in A&E last month! Sent home with bruising, found out 11 days later she had a nasty arm fracture! 12 month ago same story and sent home not knowing she had 3 breaks to hips/pelvis. Complaint now gone in!"

Marion Gibson wrote: "@WelshGovernment @Eluned_Morgan how can you have let things get this bad. Where is the plan for more staff?"

Aneurin Bevan health board replied: "We are recruiting continuously unfortunately there are just not the staff available at present."

The health board added it is "confident that our hospital system will work well (as planned) once things settle down".

"The problems we are facing are not unique to Gwent – other areas of Wales and the UK are also struggling."

'Breaking all the wrong records'

Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS called for the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay to "get a grip on the NHS and stop breaking all the wrong records".

"For a major hospital to declare a black alert on a weekday night shows the NHS is ill-prepared to help those who need it most," he said, "with hard-working staff doing all they can being let down time and time again by the Labour Government.

"We know Covid had a detrimental effect on the delivery of healthcare, but Labour ministers have had months to prepare the NHS for recovering from the pandemic but seem to be missing in action."

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board urges anyone needing medical help, to think carefully about the services you choose.

In advice to patients, it said: "If you are unwell and unsure what to do, you can check your symptoms, or call NHS 111 for advice. "Only attend the Emergency Department if you have a life-threatening illness or serious injury, such as:

  • Severe breathing difficulties

  • Severe pain or bleeding

  • Chest pain or a suspected stroke

  • Serious trauma injuries (eg. from a car crash)

It added: "If you have a less serious injury then please visit one of our Minor Injury Units in Newport, Abergavenny or Ystrad Mynach.

"If you have a loved one in hospital who is deemed medically fit to be discharged, please consider taking them home and caring for them. If your loved one is medically fit to be discharged, then hospital is not the best place for them to be – they will recover better at home. If your loved one is medically fit for discharge, our staff will contact you to discuss the next steps.

"We are asking families to help in this way because it is best for their loved one and will free up hospital beds for sick patients who need to be admitted to hospital.

"Please help us to make our service safer by sharing this information with friends and family."