HEALTH bosses and opposition leaders have called on the Welsh Government to dramatically improve and invest in social care, after a damning report linked current policies to hospital waiting times.

In a report published on Tuesday the Senedd's health committee said Wales was in a "social care crisis", with thousands of patients - many of them elderly - spending weeks in hospital because there was no plan in place to get them home safely.

The matter is having a knock-on effect throughout the NHS, piling pressure on wards and treatment lists, and ramping up demand for ambulances, which - as the Argus has reported previously - have queued outside hospitals for hours with patients inside, because no beds are available.

In Gwent, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said staff were "doing everything they can to ensure people can return home as quickly as possible with appropriate care".

But Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said the problem was with politicians, not with NHS staff. He condemned the Welsh Government’s “inability to develop a discharge plan” for hospitals and argued Labour had “failed” to deal with NHS problems “for too long”.

“It is clear that the delay in addressing issues in the social care sector is damaging other services in our healthcare system, from ambulance delays to recruitment,” he said.

“Labour ministers need to remember that these are real people being affected by their lack of action, not just statistics. These problems are going to get worse and worse until ministers stand up, admit there is a crisis and accept responsibility for their failures.”

The Welsh NHS Confederation also fears the problems will get worse unless adequate investment is made in social care.

“The report’s findings reiterate the importance of a strong, stable social care sector and the need for long-term funding,” said the confederation’s assistant director, Nesta Lloyd-Jones. “Without significant improvements in this area, including improved pay, conditions and career prospects for those working in social care, the situation is unlikely to improve as much as we need it to.

In addition, the rising cost of living would “only exacerbate” recruitment problems in social care and “add to existing costs”, she warned.

“Local NHS and social care leaders are working closely together to improve the situation, but without the long-term, sustainable funding for the care sector that we’ve been calling for, there is only so far these collaborative efforts can go,” she added.

South Wales Argus: Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies and Natasha Asghar have called on the Welsh Government to improve the state of the NHS.Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies and Natasha Asghar have called on the Welsh Government to improve the state of the NHS.

The day before the committee published its findings, South Wales East MS Natasha Asghar told the Senedd she had recently visited Gwent’s flagship Grange University Hospital as a patient, before reeling off a litany of complaints ranging from the car parking provision to the “shockingly small” waiting room for A&E arrivals.

While she described the staff as “absolutely fantastic”, Tory Senedd member Ms Asghar described the hospital as a “shambles” and called on the Welsh Government to “make the Grange hospital fit for purpose as a matter of urgency”.

A spokesperson for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said they were “sorry to hear Ms Asghar has raised concerns” about the hospital, where patient flow has been affected by “the knock-on effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and staff shortages across health and social care”.

They added: “The Emergency Department (ED) at The Grange University Hospital was purpose-built for patients who require life-saving treatment for very serious conditions. At times when ED staff are caring for people whose lives are in danger, people with less serious conditions may experience long waits to be seen by a doctor. Work is already under way at the hospital to expand the capacity of the ED waiting room.”