There were calls today for the First Minister to apologise to the family of a patient forced to wait almost 10 hours for an ambulance on the weekend. The calls came during First Minister’s Questions (FMQs), as the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives raised the crisis in Welsh emergency services.
During FMQs, Andrew RT Davies accused the First Minister of having “no answers to Wales’ crisis in emergency services”.
Welsh Conservatives recently uncovered figures which revealed a combined deficit of over 1,000 nurses at Welsh health boards, and Freedom of Information Requests by the Party found that six of seven health boards are failing to replace staff who leave through resignation or retirement.
The departure of many nurses is increasing pressure on A&E units, delaying paramedics in queues unable to transfer their patients into care. The ‘logjam’ this creates worsens ambulance response times and A&E waiting times.
On the weekend, Cowbridge resident Mrs Kathleen Dwek was forced to wait for around ten hours for an ambulance after a serious fall in which she broke her leg and hip. Mrs Dwek is 88 years old and registered disabled.
After calling an ambulance for her at 10.45am on Sunday, Mrs Dwek’s son-in-law waited with her until 8.20pm for an ambulance. The wait was in spite of repeated calls, and a warning that she was losing consciousness, developing numbness in her limbs, and having breathing difficulty.
Speaking outside the chamber, Mr Davies said:
“The Welsh NHS is haemorrhaging nurses, and the impact on emergency services is such that they are now in full-blown crisis mode.
“There has to be something seriously wrong with the system when an elderly, disabled patient is forced to wait nearly ten hours for an ambulance after a serious fall.
“The trouble is, the First Minister doesn’t have any answers to the problem – but he must apologise to Mrs Dwek and any other patients forced to endure similar waits.
“This is a crisis in leadership and management, and we know that ambulance staff work extremely hard in difficult circumstances to deliver the best possible care.
“That’s why it’s so heart-breaking to hear so many stories like this – where people are forced to wait in extreme pain for many hours.
“We need drastic action to tackle this crisis, but it’s fast becoming clear that Carwyn Jones has no solutions to this crisis.”