MORE than a third of patients attending the Royal Gwent Hospital's under-pressure A&E department waited longer than four hours to be dealt in January.

Despite the halting of an autumn and early winter decline in performance against waiting time targets - and a sizeable improvement on the December figures - more than 2,500 (37.1 per cent) of the 6,755 patients who attended A&E there in January waited beyond four hours.

In December, approaching half (47 per cent) of those attending A&E at the Royal Gwent waited longer than four hours, and shortly before Christmas the Welsh Government's Delivery Unit - which monitors and manages performance across the NHS in Wales, and provides support in areas where that performance is deteriorating - began a 12-week 'targeted intervention' at the hospital's emergency department.

The intervention appears to be yielding results, though January also brought 654 fewer patients through the doors of A&E than December (7,409 attendances), which was its busiest month on record.

January was still very challenging for A&E at the Royal Gwent however, as it was across for units across Wales, with high numbers of patients aged over 75 - many very ill and with multiple chronic conditions - requiring treatment.


There were 708 patients in January who waited more than 12 hours to be dealt with at the Royal Gwent's A&E unit, down from the December figure (852), but considerably higher than in January last year.

There was a general improvement across Wales in January in A&E waiting times performance, compared to December, but the target - that a minimum 95 per cent of patients are dealt with inside four hours - remains a distant prospect for all units. Not one of the 13 A&E departments in Wales topped 80 per cent in January.

The Welsh Government noted that improvements had been made compared to the previous month, in what was the second busiest January on record for Wales' emergency departments, but accepted too, that too many people are waiting too long.

"We acknowledge that too many people are spending long periods in emergency departments while waiting for a hospital bed, and expect the extra £40m we made available this winter (to health boards and partners) to make improvements in this area."

But opposition parties condemned what they see as unacceptable performance and they lay the blame squarely at the door of the Labour-led administration.

“In those critical times when people attend A&E departments, they need the reassurance that they will be seen not ‘as soon as possible’, but within - and well within - the waiting periods set by this Welsh Labour Government and its Health Minister,” said Conservative shadow health minister Angela Burns AM

Plaid Cymru's shadow health minister Rhun ap Iorwerth AM, said: “Month by month the figures for A&E waiting times keep getting worse and it’s patients and staff who pay the price.

Welsh Liberal Democrats leader Jane Dodds, said: "A&E waiting times are unacceptable. Every patient forced to wait in overcrowded hospital waiting rooms and corridors is a patient let down by the very service built to support them."