On behalf of NHS Wales leaders, the Welsh NHS Confederation has today written to all Members of the Senedd (MSs) to set out the reasons for the severe pressures on the health and care system and the serious impact on service delivery. The briefing aims to shine a light on the multiple and complex challenges behind the stark headlines we’ve seen in recent weeks.
While COVID-19 admissions and deaths remain relatively stable due to the success of the vaccination programme, the NHS is experiencing an extreme surge in demand for almost all other services. This comes as the NHS continues to respond to the challenges of working alongside the COVID-19 virus, with a growing backlog of planned care and an increasing need for patients to access urgent and primary care.
The briefing stresses that no single area of the health and care system acts in isolation, but long-standing issues in social care compound the pressures faced within the NHS. Subsequently, the Welsh NHS Confederation is calling on the UK and Welsh Governments to address the challenges head-on by delivering a clear, multi-year financial settlement. This will enable long-term planning to develop and support the workforce to transform the NHS to meet the needs of the pubic, and to put social care on a sustainable foundation to meet increased public need.
The briefing also urges the public to continue to help the NHS by using services appropriate to their needs, where and when they can. This includes using NHS 111 online as a first port of call and other services such as pharmacies and Minor Injury Units.
Darren Hughes, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, said:
“There’s no single reason behind the current situation, but a combination of complex factors across the whole health and care system. In many areas we’re seeing the highest levels of demand on record, combined with restricted capacity, increasing patient needs and high public expectation, culminating in the greatest pressure on the NHS in a generation.
“In particular, the ambulance service and Emergency Departments have been overrun in recent weeks, with record-breaking numbers of calls and attendances. Primary care is also experiencing unsustainable levels of pressure, including on mental health services, all of which has a knock-on effect on the system as a whole and therefore the ability of the NHS to tackle the backlog of treatment.
“Severe pressures are being felt across the entirety of health and social care, therefore a whole-system approach is required to meet these challenges so we can provide the care and treatment needed.”