AN AVERAGE of 916 patients a month waited more than the target four hours to be dealt with at Gwent’s accident and emergency departments during the last three months of 2013.

The figures, issued by the Welsh Government as part of a quarterly report on A&E waiting times, show the units at the Royal Gwent and Nevill Hall hospitals continue to struggle to cope with demand, a situation mirrored across Wales.

During October to December last year, more than 30,600 people attended the A&E units at the two hospitals and 91.1 per cent of them were dealt with inside four hours.

But the target is for a minimum 95 per cent to be dealt with inside four hours, and that is proving stubbornly elusive, not just in Gwent, but in acute hospitals across Wales.

The average number of patients per month who waited longer than four hours in A&E at the Royal Gwent during those three months was 610, and at Nevill Hall 306.

There also remains a problem with waits of more than 12 hours in A&E for some patients, a tiny monthly percentage overall, but adding up to more than 100 a month at Gwent’s units, and several hundreds a month across Wales.

Eliminating waits of more than 12 hours has become a priority but overall, the struggles of A&E units to cope with demand, particularly ‘spikes’ during which they can be full to bursting, are set to continue.

All A&E units in Wales have continued to be busy since the turn of the year, despite a milder winter, and while winter planning has helped ease some problems their continues to be pressure on ‘front door’ services.

Campaigns like Choose Well Wales continue to provide advice on when and when not to use A&E.