Connect with us


Report highlights growing waiting lists and capacity issues in the NHS in Wales



THE AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WALES has this week published a report setting out the findings from their high-level review of how NHS Wales is tackling the backlog of patients waiting for planned care.

Although the report takes a top-level view of NHS services and doesn’t look specifically at the impact on children and young people, it illustrates the challenge for health services in which paediatric services are embedded and identifies system-wide challenges that will have to be met if the Welsh Government is to deliver the commitment to prioritise children made in its recent plan for transforming planned care and reducing waiting lists.

Dr David Tuthill, RCPCH Officer for Wales said: “This report makes clear once again that health services are under huge pressure. It highlights growing waiting lists and big capacity issues within the NHS.

“We welcomed the Welsh Government’s recent plan for transforming planned care and reducing waiting lists and in particular we were pleased to see that plan identify children and young people as a priority; and commit to tackling health inequalities as one of the plan’s central planks. However, we do need to see further detail about how those commitments will be realised, along with a proper strategy to set out how the necessary workforce will be delivered.

“The Auditor General’s overall assessment reinforces these points. It calls for the Welsh Government plan to be backed up with a proper delivery framework with more detail and milestones to measure progress. The report also says that to deliver its commitments, the Welsh Government will need to have a workforce plan based on a robust assessment of current capacity gaps and realistic proposals for addressing them.

“It’s also worrying that the Auditor General reports that the NHS in Wales has found it difficult to spend some of the extra funding made available recently and estimate that that of an extra £200m available by the Welsh Government to support recovery in 2021/22, £12.77m will be returned. RCPCH members have expressed concern as to whether new funding will be allocated to paediatric services so it’s vital that delivery plans and funding plans consider how to ensure that funding reaches those priority areas identified by the Welsh Government, including child health and paediatric services – and tackling health inequalities.”

Commenting, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said: “This report will not fill the people of Wales with the confidence they need that their taxes are delivering positive health outcomes and that they have a well-functioning health service.

“No one blames the hard-working doctors and nurses but the poor lack of planning from the Labour Government that occupy their time prioritising more politicians in Cardiff Bay than resolving the cataclysmic state of NHS waiting lists and the increased cost-of-living.

“It was a Labour health minister that said it would be foolish to have an NHS recovery plan before the end of the pandemic. This attitude has clearly been crucial in leading 1-in-5 people to be on an NHS waiting list, with 70,000 of them languishing in pain for over two years.

“Hopefully, this report is a wake-up call for the Labour Government to get a move on and show some leadership instead of leaving health boards to do all the heavy lifting. Labour need to get a grip on the NHS and stop breaking all the wrong records.”

Also responding to the Auditor General’s report on the Planned Care Backlog in Wales, Darren Hughes, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, said: “This report makes clear the enormous scale of the challenge ahead and we welcome the Auditor General’s recommendations. NHS leaders are all too aware that these are not just statistics, but individual people’s lives and experiences.

“The NHS has been through and continues to go through the most challenging period in its history. The effects of the pandemic won’t go away overnight and, despite leaders and staff doing all they can to deliver services for the people of Wales, it will take many years to reach a healthier position.

“The Welsh NHS Confederation has long called for a clear and sustainable long term funding strategy for health and social care. One-off, ring-fenced injections of cash that are time-limited do not allow the NHS to make the necessary long-term investments in staff and capital required to meet the needs of the people of Wales. Many NHS estates are not fit for purpose, requiring redesign and new equipment, which has major implications on the physical capacity of the NHS and its ability to make inroads in planned care backlogs.

“However, workforce is the number one limiting factor for NHS capacity. Without enough staff, the NHS is left with no option other than to think more creatively about how they deliver services. As the report points out, there is very limited private capacity to assist with tackling the planned care backlog.

“Recruiting and, as importantly, retaining exhausted staff, is a huge focus for NHS leaders. Improving wellbeing support for staff, upskilling and creating opportunities for more flexible working are all on the agenda, as are large scale recruitment strategies including international recruitment and widening access to careers in the NHS through programmes such as Kickstart.

“But these programmes and initiatives take time to have a tangible impact and we need to see things improve now to try to meet public expectation.

“Another key factor contributing to current pressures, alongside extremely high levels of demand, is the challenges facing social care. The sector is facing arguably more difficult workforce challenges than the NHS which is only being exacerbated by the tight labour market and the cost-of-living crisis. Without long term sustainable funding and impactful solutions in social care, the NHS will continue to experience problems discharging patients from hospital, hindering the NHS’ ability to address the planned care backlog.”

Continue Reading


Ground breaking telehealth trial supports people with long term conditions in West Wales



A GROUND breaking telehealth trial has been deployed across West Wales to support people living at home with long term health conditions. One third of adults in Wales, around 800,000 people, have a long term health condition.

Hywel Dda Local Health Board is working in partnership with Delta Wellbeing, global health and care technology solutions provider Tunstall Healthcare and local primary care services support patients across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire living with long term conditions, such as cardiac, lung and chronic disease, at home using pioneering telehealth equipment.

The initiative focuses on supporting wellbeing in the community using remote monitoring and is transforming the way that care services are delivered to people living with long term conditions. From a service perspective, telehealth means that patients can remain in their own homes, with the reduced need to travel to appointments, and decreasing the need for staff to see patients who can be supported remotely. This in turn reduces stress and expense, and improves the quality of life for patients and their families.

Commenting on the telehealth trial, Gavin Bashar, managing director at Tunstall Healthcare, said: “Long term health conditions account for approximately 50% of all GP appointments, and more than 70% of all inpatient bed days. Using telehealth can help to provide ongoing monitoring to these patients in their own homes, enabling early intervention and empowering them to feel more confident in managing their health.

“Patients in the trial use using telehealth equipment including a blood pressure cuff, weighing scales and a pulse oximeter. The readings from these devices are transmitted to the Tunstall myMobile app on their smartphone and all the information submitted by the patient can be viewed remotely by clinicians 24/7, allowing preventative action to be taken.

“The telehealth service means that changes to a patient’s health or any response to medication can be monitored in real time, ensuring help can be provided at the earliest opportunity. This can lead to a reduction in the need for more complex interventions. The service has protected the wellbeing of vulnerable patients, improved outcomes in patients living with long term conditions, enabled the faster discharge of patients from hospital and provided personalised monitoring of complex comorbidities.”

Clinicians use software that provides a dashboard which prioritises patients that are most in need of care, and allows specialist nurses and primary care to remotely monitor each patient’s symptoms and progress. Areas of concern will generate an email or text message to clinicians, enabling them to be addressed promptly. The technology also allows patients to have consultations by video helping to avoid unnecessary visits to clinics or hospitals. When required, face to face appointments will be arranged for further treatment and consultation.

So far around 300 patients have been supported through the service. Early assessment of patient reported outcome measures show improvement of quality of life and a change in behaviour with improved physical and psychological outcomes.

Speaking on the benefits of home monitoring, 79-year-old cardiac patient Pat , said: “My heart nurse asked me if I would try this new technology that they were bringing in. I’ve had absolutely no problems what-so-ever. It’s no more difficult than going into a GP surgery. It’s all connected to the iPad I have been given which then goes straight through to the heart clinic. It’s so easy! You can do everything from your own armchair no problem at all.”

Clare Marshall, heart failure specialist nurse for Hywel Dda Local Health Board, added: “Telehealth equipment allows me to manage medication changes from a distance, which patients really like. I have been able to prevent hospital admission and more complex care interventions for a patient whose heart rate had decreased following a change of medication.

“Overall, the service empowers patients to manage their own condition as they learn more about what impacts upon their health, and increases confidence in recognising their symptoms. The service builds upon the principles of shared decision making and co-production in healthcare, delivering improved outcomes.”

The trial follows Delta Wellbeing’s successful CONNECT proactive technology enabled care (TEC) programme which has been acknowledged as an exemplar in the UK, providing a good practice example of working across sectoral boundaries to deliver a radical, person-centred approach to wellbeing, care and support.

CONNECT focussed on supporting prevention and wellbeing through a technological and digital approach, and combining bespoke technology enabled care equipment with wellbeing calls, access to a 24/7 community response and digital support. Delta CONNECT is a pioneering national programme funded under the Welsh Government’s Transformation Fund through the West Wales Care Partnership Board.

Continue Reading


Health board: COVID-19 vaccinations will be by appointment only from end of this month



THE LOCAL health board has announced that from August 31, access to Mass Vaccination Centres (MVCs) in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire for COVID-19 vaccinations will be by appointment only in preparation for the start of the winter vaccine programme.

Anyone wishing to drop-in for their first or second dose during August is advised to check opening times on the day before travelling by visiting or calling 0300 303 8322 as these are subject to change. If you still require a booster, please wait to be offered an appointment.

From 31 August 2022 onwards, please book an appointment by calling 0300 303 8322 or by emailing

Bethan Lewis, Interim Assistant Director of Public Health at Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB), said: “Throughout the vaccination programme we’ve aimed to make the vaccine easily accessible through a combination of drop-ins and appointments. This change will allow us to deliver the COVID-19 in partnership with primary care and minimise the risk of duplication or vaccine waste.

“If you are eligible for an autumn COVID-19 booster, please wait to be invited by either your GP or the health board. Everyone eligible will be offered an appointment by November.

“GP practices are also preparing to invite eligible patients for their seasonal flu vaccine and aim to offer an appointment to everyone eligible by December. Again, please do not contact your GP practice at this time, you will be invited when it is your turn.”

Scheduled drop-in sessions for children and young people who are home-educated or not in education to access childhood vaccinations routinely offered through school nursing teams will continue as advertised at selected MVCs.

The remaining drop-in sessions for children aged 5 to 17 years of age will be held between 12pm and 6pm in the following locations:

Aberystwyth MVC (Thomas Parry Library, Llanbadarn Campus, SY23 3AS) – Tuesday 30 August
Carmarthen MVC (Y Gamfa Wen, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, SA31 3EP) – Friday 2 September
Cwm Cou MVC (Ysgol Trewen, SA38 9PE) – Monday 22 August
Haverfordwest MVC (Pembrokeshire Archives, SA61 2PE) – Wednesday 31 August
Llanelli MVC (Dafen Industrial Estate, SA14 8QW) – Tuesday 23 August
These drop-in sessions are also open to any Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire or Ceredigion school attendees who may have missed their vaccinations.

If you are unable to attend one of these sessions and have any queries or wish for your child to receive their scheduled vaccines, please complete the form available here or call 0300 303 8322 to be contacted by a member of the health board’s immunisation nursing team.

Continue Reading


Possible super-hospital plans released as Pembrokeshire site ruled out



HYWEL Dda Health Board have reduced the number of potential sites for the new “super-hospital” in West Wales from five to three. 

The new site has been narrowed down to two possible locations in Whitland or one in St Clears.

According to the plans provided in Hywel Dda’s technical appraisal reports, all sites will include a main building divided into planned and urgent care, as well as a separate facility for mental health services. Parking, administrative facilities, and a helipad are also planned.

Site 12 in Whitland
Travel time analysis for population to site 12

The potential Narberth site is no longer being considered, meaning that the new hospital would be built outside of Pembrokeshire.

Hywel Dda presented the findings of a “transport infrastructure analysis,” stating that both sites had bus services that are “infrequent” and “short,” making shift work difficult.

Plan for ‘site C’ in Whitland
Travel time analysis for population to ‘site C’

For Whitland, it noted that there was an approximate 750m walking distance from the train station to the hospital site, with recommended walking distance of 400m, and that local roads do ‘not appear’ to suffer from significant congestion during a typical weekday. 

In St Clears, the report highlighted the impact a planned new railway station – expected to open in 2024 – could have on the town, saying it would be a ‘major boost’ to the area providing viable alternative car travel, with it being understood there is a commitment to increase the frequency of services at some stations along the west Wales line from two hourly to hourly.

Plans for ‘site 17’ in St Clears
Travel time analysis for population ‘site 17’ in St Clears

After it was announced that Narberth would not be the site of the new hospital, Hywel Dda University Health Board Chair, Maria Battle, assured the residents of Pembrokeshire that their concerns would be taken into account.

“Our programme business case to the Welsh Government is seeking the greatest investment west Wales will have ever seen,” said Ms Battle.

Ambulance times to Whitland, Bronglais Hospital and Morriston Hospital (Welsh Ambulance Service travel time analysis June 2022)
Ambulance times to St Clears, Bronglais Hospital and Morriston Hospital (Welsh Ambulance Service travel time analysis June 2022)

“We have listened to and continue to listen to the fears and voices of the public we serve and our staff who understand the frontline challenges of trying to deliver services across so many sites and spread so thinly.

“Recognising the fragility of our services and the risk this poses every day, we do not intend to make changes at Glangwili or Withybush hospitals before a new hospital is built. And afterwards, they will continue to provide valuable health services to our communities.”

Continue Reading

News6 hours ago

Large emergency service mobilisation to assist driver who went over cliff near oil refinery

POLICE, ambulance, coastguard, and RNLI and two helicopters were all involved in the extraction of a casualty from a vehicle...

News17 hours ago

School leavers receiving A level results across Pembrokeshire today

A LEVEL RESULTS posted this morning show an overall 98* pass rate at grades A* to E compared with 99.1%...

News2 days ago

Pembrokeshire County Show opens today, and promises to be ‘action-packed’

WALES’ largest county agricultural show, Pembrokeshire County Show, opens today (Aug 17), and promises to be action-packed next week. The...

News2 days ago

Police investigating early morning hit-and-run in Pembroke; Officers appeal for information

POLICE in Pembroke are investigating a road traffic collision which occurred at about 2.15am on Sunday (Aug 14). A silver...

Health2 days ago

Health board: COVID-19 vaccinations will be by appointment only from end of this month

THE LOCAL health board has announced that from August 31, access to Mass Vaccination Centres (MVCs) in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and...

News3 days ago

Police looking for a suspect following disturbance in Narberth High Street

POLICE are investigating an incident which occurred at about 1am on Sunday morning, 31st July 2022 in Narberth . A...

News3 days ago

Seven injured in A477 road accident near Neyland – Two remain in hospital

DYFED-POWYS POLICE is appealing for witnesses after seven people were injured in a road accident. Two people remain in hospital...

News4 days ago

100 firemen at recycling centre blaze which will take ‘days to extinguish’

OFFICIALS from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have said that a fire at TBS Recycling in Waterston...

News4 days ago

Dry fire hydrants challenging fire fighters at recycling centre fire

FIRE crews from as far as way as Whitland, Kidwelly, and Tumble in Carmarthenshire tackling a large blaze at a...

News5 days ago

Female casualty airlifted to Cardiff following serious road traffic collision near Neyland

THE A477 was closed at the Honeyborough roundabout in Neyland on Saturday afternoon (Aug 13) following a road traffic collision...

Popular This Week