There is no doubt that the NHS continues to be under severe pressure despite recent assurances of further funding being provided by the government. Increasing pressure to improve services against growing demand has resulted in stricter targets being set Welsh NHS trusts.
However recent data released in October this year has shown, yet again, that the majority of health boards across the UK are falling short of these targets. In particular, the data has been collected to monitor performance against four key services. In Wales these have been set as follows:-
- A&E Treatment – A four hour target in which to treat and discharge/admit patients;
- Cancer Care – Treatment to be provided within 62 days of urgent referral;
- Planned operations and care (non-emergency treatment) – Treatment to be provided within 26 weeks in Wales (as opposed to 18 weeks in England and Scotland);
- Access to psychological/mental health treatment – Access to treatment within 28 days of referral.
Whilst the collection of the data varies between England, Wales and Scotland the results show just how much NHS bodies are struggling overall. If you’re interested in the data relevant to your local health board, simply use the NHS Tracker by the BBC and type in your postcode to find out more.
In Wales, in particular, these results are worrying in light of Joint Escalation and Intervention Arrangements put forward in the summer of 2018. These arrangements, agreed by the Welsh Government, Auditor General for Wales and Health care Inspectorate for Wales, were designed to share information and respond to concerns relating to Welsh health boards.
Whilst six of the ten health boards were scored at the lowest escalation level, reflecting normal services, of note was Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board who was put under special measures, the highest escalation level possible. Despite an improvement framework being put in place until next summer, the recent data revealed that Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board failed to meet any of the targets set, scoring the lowest in two of the four criteria overall.
However, this failure is not specific to Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, as all but one health board failed to meet the target set for A&E waiting time and planned procedures. Sadly no health board was able to meet the target for cancer treatment.
In light of these results, it is undoubtedly concerning to think that many patients across Wales may be suffering significant and unreasonable delays in accessing suitable treatment. In many cases, this delay can cause devastating and long-term effects. Sadly, at Hugh James, we often deal with cases against NHS Trusts in respect of delayed treatment and failure to provide timely or adequate care.
If you believe that you, or a loved one, have been subject to negligence at the hands of your GP, local health board or Trust; Hugh James can advise you. Hugh James is ranked in the top tier for our expert clinical negligence advice by both major legal guides Chambers and Partners and Legal 500.