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A&E departments in Wales ‘under pressure’

More needs to be done to tackle the ‘pressure’ on unscheduled care services in Wales, as older patients have seen a marked increase in the time they have to spend waiting in A&E, says the auditor general.

Publishing his latest report on the state of the NHS in Wales the Welsh auditor general, Huw Vaughan Thomas warned that emergency services were under ‘considerable pressure.’

The report says that rising demand, workforce challenges and problems with patient flow through acute hospitals have combined to place significant pressure on unscheduled care services in Wales.

It warns that waiting times at hospital emergency departments have generally increased over recent years, and says too many patients, in particular those aged over 85 years, are spending longer than 12 hours in A&E.

Mr Vaughan Thomas concludes: ‘Some of the key challenges that existed in 2009 are still apparent – namely the need to develop a more holistic, joined-up approach to unscheduled care services, and the need to help patients better understand the complex array of unscheduled care services so that they access the most appropriate treatment for their needs.’