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Planned hospital reorganisations have to address A& E pressures

March 22, 2013 11:08 PM

As reported by Wales Online hospitals across Wales have yet again been struggling to cope with the demand at A&E units, with the resultant knock on effects for ambulance response times and in some cases scheduled operations.

Cwm Taf reported that their District General Hospitals, Prince Charles and Royal Glamorgan were "busy but coping." Health boards were reported to be urging the public to look at other options for treatment, such as self care or seeing a pharmacist, before attending A&E

This follows a similar report just a couple of weeks ago when Cwm Taf were said to be 'facing serious pressures on services.' Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, and Health spokesperson said then

"It is fair to say that the Welsh NHS is teetering on the brink after over a decade of mismanagement by the Welsh Labour Government. I have very little confidence that they will be able to provide a better service for patients after re-organisation."

Then Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said she was monitoring the situation and urged people to think before dialling 999.

"The public have an important part to play at this challenging time for emergency care services by using the most appropriate healthcare service to their needs and thinking before attending the Accident and Emergency Department or dialling 999. The free to download Choose Well application provides advice on which service to use when ill or injured and details of how to find them."

Ms Griffiths was moved from that post in a Cabinet reshuffle last week after coming under increasing criticism from all opposition parties for failing to address the serious problems facing the Health Service in Wales.

South Wales Health Authorities are soon to start a formal consultation on the reorganisation of certain critical care services including major trauma services.

In our submission to the first round of public engagement on the subject we stated:

"Many of those who currently attend A&E would not disagree that their injury / illness is not strictly speaking one they should take there, but they have little option. The Minor Injuries Units in Cwm Taf do not function adequately, the hours of operation are severely limited, and in the case of Cwm Rhondda people have to ring for an appointment.

"As for being treated by a GP then this is simply not an option in many areas and in a substantial number of cases. Even during opening hours GPs' surgeries are often unwilling or unable to take in 'emergency' cases Outside of surgery opening times the situation gets worse, and people are ringing the out of hours service to be told by that they have no appointments left.

"There is also confusion over which is the best course of action - MIU, GP or A&E. Someone who has slipped in the street and hurt their ankle doesn't know if it is broken or not - that is why they seek medical advice."

It is simply not enough to tell people they should take alternative action where it is more appropriate - those alternative services need to be readily available. Nobody wants to go and spend hours in A&E, but in reality there is often little choice.