The NHS is facing unsustainable pressures

Darren Hughes, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, responds to the latest NHS activity and performance statistics in Wales.

18 November 2021

Responding to the latest NHS activity and performance statistics, Darren Hughes, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, said:

“The NHS in Wales is currently facing unsustainable pressures, from all angles – problems facing social care, the ongoing impact of COVID-19, increasing demand for urgent and emergency care, as well as primary care, staff shortages and of course, the backlog of treatment.

“These statistics show the unrelenting high levels of demand the ambulance service and emergency departments are facing, with October seeing the highest number of immediately life-threatening (‘red’) calls made to the ambulance service since records began.

“We welcome the Welsh Government’s announcement of investment in diagnostic equipment, but without addressing staffing problems and wider system issues at play, there is only so much the NHS can do to address waiting times.

“It’s critical that funding and resources are focused on alleviating pressures facing the social care sector to assist in reducing the bottleneck, ensuring medically fit patients can safely be discharged into the community, freeing up much-needed capacity in the NHS.

“However, we need to be honest with the public that winter is going to be extremely difficult. The whole system is working together to find solutions to solve the problems, improve patient flow, manage high demand and keep people out of hospital where possible, but the pressure on the system is higher than at any other point during the pandemic.

“NHS leaders are very mindful that behind these statistics are people, both patients and the staff who are working day-in, day-out to do all they can to keep patients safe. We cannot thank them enough.”