NHS Wales ambulance

NHS Wales’ focusses for next year

As it enters its third year, the Welsh Government has said the Six Goals for Urgent and Emergency Care programme will focus on cutting ambulance handover delays and the longest waits in NHS Wales’ A&Es.

Backed by £25m every year, the initiative was launched in April 2022 to help people avoid busy emergency departments and has presided over the roll-out of 16 urgent primary care centres, 25 same-day emergency care services, and NHS 111 Wales.

Despite elevated demand still impacting services throughout the UK, the Welsh Government says that the average wait to be triaged in A&E has remained stable at around 20 minutes.

The devolved government also highlights that:

  • Urgent primary care centres are helping 11,000 people every month, with 85% cared for away from A&E
  • 7,500 people are using same day emergency care services, with almost 80% discharged from home on the same day
  • The average length of hospital stay has reduced from 8.5 days to seven
  • NHS 111 Wales ‘press 2’ is receiving over 6,000 calls per month

Over 200,000 people have benefitted from new services developed under the six goals initiative.

Eluned Morgan comment

Over the last 12 months, more than three-quarters of a million people completed their treatment in emergency departments within four hours — 57,000 more than the year prior. More than 26,000 people received a response to their 999 ‘red’ calls in 2023/24 — 13% more than 2022/23.

“Every day thousands of people in Wales receive high-quality urgent and emergency healthcare,” said Wales’ cabinet secretary for health, Eluned Morgan.

She added: “That’s why we’re investing in services like 111 and urgent primary care centres through the Six Goals programme.

“Despite relentless demand on services these changes have helped stabilise emergency department performance. But we know there is much more to do.”

Patient Sharon Bettinson, from Caerphilly, with her husband and staff at Velindre Cancer Centre

One of the projects funded by the six goals scheme is at Velindre Cancer Centre and is delivering specialised same day services to cancer patients who develop toxicity from their immunotherapy. This helps them avoid repeat emergency admissions.

Speaking on the initiative, consultant and Velindre Cancer Centre, Dr Ricky Frazer, said: “Immunotherapy is a hugely effective treatment for patients living with cancer, but in some cases it can cause unpleasant side effects that can become serious if not managed effectively.

“Our 24-hr service provides information, education and resources to patients and staff across south east Wales and beyond, to help them identify and relieve any side-effects as swiftly and safely as possible.”

Velindre patient, Sharon Bettinson, said: “They're just fantastic in Velindre. You know when you go there you're going to get the right treatment and you're not going to be hanging around for hours. I can't praise them enough for what they've done for me.”

Image credit: iStock

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