Data shows that patients are staying in Welsh hospitals for an average of seven days. This is the longest in any UK nation. The Nuffield Trust said this plus long waits meant many patients were “missing out on care they should expect”. The Welsh NHS boss also added that the service was under “enormous pressures”.
Welsh NHS Chief Executive Judith Paget said: “Every day hundreds, if not thousands, have good care from the NHS. I don’t accept that we’re in a crisis situation”
It has been discovered that a patient spent four nights in A&E waiting for a bed. An ambulance patient was also said to wait 19 hours outside the hospital before being seen.
The independent healthcare research charity Nuffield Trust has also found out in a research that over the last 10 years, the average length of a hospital stay – seen as a key measure for health service efficiency – in England has dropped to just over four days.
In Wales however, the average stay is seven days, as research shows the gap between Wales and England’s average has widened.
Staff at Wrexham Maelor Hospital say they are working round the clock to find space and appropriate care for patients.
Mark Dayan, of The Nuffield Trust, told BBC Wales that how long patients were being treated in hospital was key to the running of the NHS because it “determines how many patients you can get through”.
He said: “That means that despite having more nurses and despite having more beds, it is not seeing the same increase in its ability to treat more patients.”
“There hasn’t been much improvement in Wales over the last decade either. So, I think we need to look seriously into the possibility that Wales is simply not succeeding in treating patients safely at the speed they could be treated at in England.”
Mr. Dayan also added that he is not convinced that the reason for the longer waiting time was because Wales was an older and sicker nation.
Comparing Wales to not only England but to Scotland and Northern Ireland who he believes both have possibly higher need for healthcare than Wales, he pointed out that both Scotland and Northern Ireland have shorter average length of stays in hospital than Wales.
The average waiting times for referral to treatment in Wales and England has widened too. Before Covid, it was 11 weeks in Wales compared to eight in England, but now it is 24 weeks in Wales and 13 in England on average.
“If you need planned care, you’re likely to wait twice as long for it as you would in England,” Mr Dayan said.
“And that’s twice as long as a waiting time that isn’t really acceptable in England to start with – it’s missing all of the targets there. Patients in Wales are really missing out on care that they should expect to be getting.”
A BBC investigations team found out that the 95% Welsh target for patients being seen and treated within four hours at A&E has never been met and in fact is getting worse. And just last month, A&E and ambulance waiting times in Wales were close to their worst on record.
The Nuffield Trust met Catherine Magliocco who had to wait more than 12 hours in an ambulance outside her local A&E in north Wales after being taken to hospital complaining of chest pains. After she was eventually wheeled in for an initial triage assessment, and waited for a doctor to give her a check-up, she and other patients were deemed stable enough to go back into the ambulance since the A&E was full.
Despite having more beds and more nurses, the Nuffield Trust research found Wales has less consultants per head of population than England.
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