Hospitals accused of missing A&E targets; TORY HEALTH SPOKESMAN RAISES QUESTIONS ON DELAYS.
ALMOST 50,000 patients who come into accident and emergency units in Wales with serious problems are waiting more than four hours to be admitted to hospital.
Figures obtained by Shadow Health spokesman Andrew RT Davies show that in one Welsh hospital, as many as two in every three patients were not admitted within the NHS-imposed four-hour target.
The figures, which only include patients with problems serious enough to be admitted to hospital, show that of 140,217 patients acrossWales who went into A&E in 2009-10, more than one-third spent more than four hours in the unit before they were admitted into hospital.
The target set by the NHS in Wales is for 95% of patients in A&E to be discharged or admitted to hospital within four hours.
In Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, which runs the A&E department at the University Hospital ofWales, 38% of patients met that target - while in Abertawe Bro Morgannwg (ABM) University Health Board, which was the next worst offender, the figure was 64%.
Meanwhile at Cwm Taf Local Health Board, which covers hospitals in the South Wales Valleys, 75% of patients were admitted within four hours.
Conservative AM Andrew RT Davies, who uncovered the figures, said: "These statistics are a real concern. If patients need to be admitted to hospital then why is it taking more than four hours to do so?" Annual Operating Framework (AOF) targets for all A&E departments in Wales state that 95% of patients should "spend no longer than four hours in a major A&E department from arrival until admission, transfer or discharge" and that 99% of patients spend no longer than eight hours.
Dr Kesh Baboolal, Cardiff and Vale UHB's director of acute hospital services, denied there were differences in performance, saying patients took longer to be admitted because they were having further assessments on site in the A&E unit.
He said: "It is entirely appropriate that sufficient time is given to the proper assessment and treatment of patients who attend the Emergency Unit, and this is something which is allowed for in theWelsh Assembly Government's eight-hour target.
"Patients are often observed or assessed further within the Emergency Unit's assessment area, prior to a clinical decision being taken on whether they can be discharged safely or need to be admitted to hospital."
The ABM University Health Board said last week it was spending pounds 1m on improving the emergency services at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, including a pounds 700,000 Clinical Decision Unit to take pressure off the hospital's A&E unit.
A spokesman for Betsi CadwaladrUHBin NorthWales said latest quarterly figures showed three-quarters of patients were being admitted after their A&E treatment within four hours.
And a spokeswoman forCwm Taf Health Board said: "Our recent performance against the four-hour target was over 90% of patients admitted or discharged from A&E across all sites."
Aneurin Bevan Health Board in Gwent and Hywel Dda Health Board in West Wales did not comment. And Wales' seventh health board, Powys, does not have an A&E department.