Labour AM, Eluned Morgan has met with senior staff of Hywel Dda Health Board to discuss the “extraordinary” winter pressures that have resulted in non-urgent operations being cancelled at all four hospitals in the health board region.
In responding to significant pressures on the Health Service, Hywel Dda Health Board cancelled routine surgery to protect patient safety during what is traditionally the busiest and most pressurised week of the year for the NHS.
Last Friday afternoon, the Mid and West Wales Assembly Member met with Chair of Hywel Dda Health Board, Maria Battle and Mandy Rayani, Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience on-site at Withybush Accident and Emergency, one of the departments affected by increased A&E attendances.
Eluned Morgan AM said: “Firstly, I’d like to thank the staff on the front line who have dealt with this increase in demand, professionally and with care we expect from our NHS.
“Meeting with managers and importantly clinicians has given me an understanding of the issues that have affected our services over the last week or so. Clearly, the decision to cancel any operation is not taken lightly. But I understand that operations were cancelled in other Health Board areas too.
“In an effort to be as open and transparent as possible Hywel Dda Health Board took the decision to update patients on a daily basis and to maintain safe levels of care for those in intensive care and others needing emergency treatment throughout the period.”
In figures provided to Eluned Morgan, it was revealed that the Hywel Dda Health Board area has a much older population that other parts of the country, with 10 times more over 85s than anywhere else in Wales. “The Health Board enacted its winter plan, to ensure the highly pressurised situation was de-escalated safely and with as little impact as possible,” she continued.
“As the situation eased at hospitals across the region including Withybush, it is fair to say that it worked.
“There has been a great deal of flu circulating in the community for some time which has played a part in increasing hospital attendances. But we have to look at how the health and social care system can work better together to ensure that patients who are currently stuck in hospital for no medical reason other than they are awaiting a care package can be supported better.”
The NHS in Wales has continued to urge patients to choose well this winter, providing advice on how and where the most common conditions should be treated, whether at a community pharmacy, GP surgery, Minor Injury Unit or Accident and Emergency department. For more information or advice visit: http://www.choosewellwales.org.uk/ or call NHS Direct Wales on 111.
Examples of a serious health emergency include unconsciousness, difficulty in breathing, a suspected heart attack, heavy blood loss and serious injury or burns. NHS Wales advice is to always call 999 for an in such situations.