Out today (Thursday 21 April), the latest monthly performance statistics for the NHS in Wales show:
- On average, more calls were made to the ambulance service per day than the previous month. The number, and proportion, of life-threatening (red) calls are still increasing, with more than 100 red calls made each day for the tenth month in a row.
- There was a sharp increase in average daily attendances to emergency departments in March, the highest level since September 2021.
- The number of patient pathways waiting, those waiting longer than the target time and average waiting times for diagnostic services all decreased in February.
- More patients are concluding their treatment. The number of patient pathways closed in February was almost 70,000. This is an average of 3,492 patient pathways closed per working day, an increase of 1.7% from January 2022, and the highest since the month before the pandemic (February 2020).There was an increase in both activity levels and performance against the 62 day target for cancer services on the previous month.
In response, Darren Hughes, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, said:
“The NHS is currently experiencing the highest levels of demand in its history, accompanied by the latest surge in Covid cases in the community and the implications this has on its ongoing ability to treat patients. Despite this, we’re seeing encouraging signs of progress in some areas.
“All parts of the system continue to deal with huge levels of demand with constrained capacity. 999 calls continue to grow both month on month and year on year as do the number of patients waiting for treatment. However, those waiting longer than the target time and average waiting times for diagnostic services all decreased in February.
“The high proportion and daily volume of red (life-threatening) calls show that the very real demand on urgent care is not slowing down. This was coupled with a sharp increase in average daily attendances to A&Es in March – again an increase month on month and year on year.
“But we can’t lose sight of the key issues here. The very real impact on urgent and emergency care as well as an increase in people waiting month after month for non-urgent treatment are symptoms of a whole-system under severe strain. The pressure on GPs, pharmacies, community services and crucially social care are limiting the NHS’s ability to provide treatment in other areas, which has a huge impact on patient flow through hospitals.
“Long waits in ambulances outside hospitals and A&Es are a result of problems freeing up much-needed hospital beds. Without directly addressing the long-standing issues in social care there is only so much the NHS can do to keep up with demand and make considerable inroads into the treatment backlog.
“It’s good to see progress in some important areas but health leaders still feel the NHS is a long way from a sustainable and resilient system that is able to meet and manage overall demand from patients.
“Frontline staff continue to step up to deliver care, but the conditions must be right for them to be able to deliver more for patients. We urge the public to continue to support the NHS by accessing services in the right way, at the right place, at the right time. NHS 111 online should be the first port of call for anything not immediately life-threatening.”