Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board lambasted for failing to properly prepare for winter pressures

Clwyd West Assembly Member Darren Millar has lambasted Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) for its management of bed capacity to deal with increased emergency demands due to winter pressures.

Mr Millar sent a letter to the troubled health board before Christmas after being contacted by concerned clinicians who alerted him to the Health Board's winter plans.

This week, he received a response from BCUHB’s Chief Executive Gary Doherty outlining the actions being taken.

In it is stated:

We are not restricting the surgical bed capacity. We are however adjusting the balance of inpatient admissions and day cases for our planned surgical activity, and restricting the number of inpatient surgical bookings to five patients per day with the most time-critical conditions, which includes those patients with cancer.

It is predictable that in the first two weeks of January demand for medical inpatient beds will exceed the allocated capacity for these specialities, and some medical patients will need to be nursed in surgical wards.

By reducing the number of patients scheduled for planned inpatient surgical admissions during this period, we can reduce the likelihood of these patients being subjected to multiple cancellations if the beds are needed for emergency medical admissions, while prioritising inpatient surgical care for those patients who need it the most. At the same time, by planning to focus on day cases we aim to maximise surgical activity over this period.”

Mr Millar has criticised the move, saying that BCUHB should have addressed the problem by increasing bed numbers sufficiently in the New Year to enable operations to continue. 

He said:

“Common sense dictates – and history shows – that with harsh weather comes increased demand. All Health Boards are fully aware of this and should be properly prepared to deal with it, yet there is chaos within our hospitals at this time of year, every year.

“Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has been in special measures almost five years now. It was originally told the measure would last for two years but it has repeatedly missed agreed targets for improved standards and this latest fiasco will do nothing to help its case.

“Undoubtedly frontline NHS staff at all hospitals here in North Wales consistently do their very best to help us – even when the going gets tough. BCUHB owes it to them, and their patients, to ensure that they are properly prepared to deal with the additional pressures that winter brings. The plan put in place this winter is simply not good enough!”


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