Health chiefs have acknowledged the findings of a report which criticises the limited capacity and conditions in the emergency department of Gwent’s flagship hospital, the Grange.
The findings by Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) said improvements to patient flow and waiting times must be dealth with as a matter of urgency.
However Monmouth MP David Davies is calling for an inquiry following HIW’s report, saying problems at the Grange can no longer be ignored.
He said The Grange has come under heavy criticism since it opened on November 17 2020 – with a catalogue of incidents shining a spotlight on healthcare failings affecting Monmouthshire in particular.
“In light of this damning report, the Welsh Labour Government simply cannot bury its head in the sand anymore,” said Mr Davies.
“HIW has confirmed what we have been saying for a long time, which is backed up by a volume of complaints received by my office and numerous letters in the local newspapers.
“It is not about apportioning blame and nor is this an attack on our hardworking doctors, nurses and paramedics. We are being let down by those in charge and the buck stops with ministers in Cardiff Bay.”
A key component of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board’s Clinical Futures Strategy, which aims to revolutionise health services in Gwent, The Grange is the region’s only hospital for accident and emergency care.
The Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, Abergavenny’s Nevill Hall Hospital and Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr now only operate minor injury units.
“When it was first proposed downgrading Neill Hall Hospital to a minor injury unit, both myself and Monmouthshire residents were assured the extra journey time it would take for patents travelling the longer distance to Llanfrechfa would be compensated for by the specialist and critical care ‘centre of excellence’ at The Grange,” said Mr Davies.
“The fact of the matter is this sadly has not always been the case. I would not be doing my job as a representative of the Monmouth constituency if I turned a blind eye to patients spending 24 hours in the back of ambulances outside A&E because of a lack of bed space, or a heart attack victim who was told she had to wait two hours for an ambulance. I won’t stay silent on these issues.
“We need a full public inquiry to drive forward timely improvements. The Welsh Government has so far refused but health minister Eluned Morgan should at the very least step in and appoint someone impartial to examine these healthcare failings. She cannot continue to ignore what is happening.”
Monmouth MS Peter Fox added his concerns. He said: “Whilst I appreciate all sectors – including our NHS – are under significant pressure post-pandemic, this report is damning in so many ways.
“The most concerning part is the report’s judgement that processes and systems were not sufficient in ensuring patients consistently received an acceptable standard of care.
“I have been calling for changes at the Grange for many months, following correspondence with anxious constituents, and I’m pleased that the inspectorate has identified the short comings that so many of us are concerned with.
“After all, patients and families expect nothing less than basic principles of care and safety when in hospital – which sadly appear to be lacking in this sad case.
“What is crucial is that the health board and Welsh Government ministers work around the clock to introduce robust measures to address these very serious issues.”
Commenting on the findings a spokesperson for Aneuran Bevan University Health Board said: ‘‘A variety of recommendations have been made, all of which we acknowledge and accept and some of which have already been addressed.
‘‘We were encouraged that the report and the feedback received from HIW recognised the improvements made at our Emergency Department and highlighted what we already know is true of our staff – all of whom have demonstrated hard work, great care, dedication and compassion during periods of extreme pressure on our services. It also recognised areas of good practice around patient monitoring and safety.
‘‘Many of the concerns raised by HIW focused on the limited capacity and conditions of Emergency Department’s waiting area and work is already underway to increase the size of the waiting area for patients at the hospital, to enhance our patient experience. HIW also indicated that improvements to patient flow and waiting times are required, which we fully accept. Whilst this is a nationally recognised problem and not unique to the Grange University Hospital, caused by system-wide pressures across health and social care, we are working hard to improve patient flow and reduce waiting times. We will continue to make changes to improve the experience of our patients at our Emergency Department, while continuing to provide safe urgent and emergency care to the people of Gwent.’’