MORE THAN 200,000 people accessed new NHS services developed through the Welsh Government's pioneering Six Goals programme as an alternative to emergency department care or admission to hospital last year.

Now starting its third year, the programme will focus on reducing ambulance handover delays and the longest waits in Wales’ emergency departments.

Despite record demand on urgent and emergency care in Wales, the new services created across Wales as part of the Six Goals for Urgent and Emergency Care programme have helped to ensure more people are receiving the right care for their needs, from the right healthcare professional at the first time, rather than everyone being sent to emergency departments.

Launched in April 2022, and backed by £25m every year, the programme has overseen the launch of the national NHS 111 Wales urgent care helpline service, the creation of 16 urgent primary care centres and 25 same day emergency care services.

NHS data shows:

  • Urgent primary care centres are helping around 11,000 people every month, with approximately 85% cared for away from emergency departments.
  • Around 7,500 people using same day emergency care services every month, with nearly 80% discharged home on the same day.
  • The average length of hospital stay has reduced from 8.5 days to seven days.
  • The national 24/7 mental health single point of contact service (NHS 111 Wales press 2) is receiving more than 6,000 calls a month.
  • The average wait to be triaged in in major emergency departments has remained stable at around 20 minutes, despite a surge in demand.

The last twelve months have seen increasing demand for emergency care throughout Wales.

Despite this, performance against the four-hour target has been stable with more than three quarters of a million people completing their treatment in emergency departments within four hours – an increase of 57,000 on the year before.

For life-threatening 999 ‘red’ calls, more than 26,000 people received a response in eight minutes in 2023-24, 13% more than the previous year.

Cabinet Secretary for Health Eluned Morgan said: "Every day thousands of people in Wales receive high-quality urgent and emergency healthcare. It’s vitally important they get the right care, in the right place, the first time and that isn’t always an emergency department.

“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.

“None of this would be possible without the ongoing commitment of our NHS workforce and I want to thank them for helping to deliver these changes.

“In the third year of the Six Goals programme, our focus will turn to improving ambulance patient handover times and reducing the longest waits in emergency departments.”

One of the projects funded by the Six Goals programme is providing specialised same-day services at Velindre Cancer Centre for people with cancer who develop toxicity as a result of immunotherapy treatment.

It helps them to avoid repeated emergency admissions to hospital and being admitted to hospital for ongoing care.

Speaking of the immunotherapy toxicities service at Velindre, Dr Ricky Frazer, Consultant at Velindre Cancer Centre, 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.”