EMERGENCY departments in Wales recorded their longest ever waiting times in March, the latest performance figures for the Welsh NHS have revealed.  

Almost half of all patients visiting major emergency departments in March were delayed by more than four hours, with one in four patients being delayed by eight hours.  

The figures revealed that 11,000 patients suffered delays of 12 hours or more, a record number of 12-hour delays for Welsh emergency departments.   

The proportion of patients being seen within four hours, the range targeted by NHS Wales, dropped to 55.2 per cent- itself the worst four-hour performance on record.  

In addition to rising waiting times, pressure on hospital beds increased to the highest levels since the early stages of the pandemic. In March 92 per cent of beds in emergency departments were occupied, the highest occupancy rate since April 2020.   

“The health system is broken,” said Dr Suresh Pillai, the Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Wales, reacting to the figures.   

“In order to tackle the crisis, we must see meaningful action to recruit more staff, open more beds, and address the issues in social care.”  

Dr Pillai warned that there was a shortage of at least 100 consultants in emergency medicine in Wales, in addition to shortages of junior doctors, trainees and nurses.  

MORE NEWS:

“Staff are burnt out and distressed, morale is low, and patients are becoming increasingly worried about the situation,” he said.  

“We cannot continue in these circumstances. If another month passes with further deteriorating performance and new record lows, more and more patients will come to harm.”   

Earlier this month, the Senedd Health Committee published its report into Wales’ record NHS waiting lists.  

It featured testimony from some of the 688,000 people in Wales who are waiting for medical treatment, some of whom described being left to “rot in a corner” as well as being “lied to” over delays and missed appointments.   

Opposition figures called the latest results “catastrophic”, and urged the Welsh Government to take action to address the crisis.  

“Labour needs to get a grip on the NHS and stop breaking all the wrong records,” said Conservative shadow health spokesman Russell George MS.  

“After Labour’s management of the NHS hit new lows as waiting times reached new heights last autumn, the people of Wales expected things to get better from there, not worse.”  

“But here we are on the verge of NHS waiting lists breaking its own record on a monthly basis for two years, A&E waits at their worst-ever, with ambulance responses not far behind.”  

Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for health and care Rhun ap Iorwerth MS described the figures as “immensely worrying,” and called for the Welsh Government to publish its plan to deal with the crisis.    

“The pressure on the NHS remains critical,” he said. “Frontline staff continue to work flat out, but leadership needs to come from the top, and that’s why we need to see the Welsh Government’s plan to reduce waiting times in all sectors of care, treatment and diagnostics as a matter of urgency.”  

If you value The National's journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.