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29th August 2016

Critical care units in Welsh hospitals still under pressure – and some are overcrowded, report finds

Some critical care units in Wales have too many patients on them, according to the annual Together for Health report for the critically ill, published by the Welsh Government.

It shows the pressure being put on services for the critically ill - including from delayed discharges and staff shortages.

In January 2015, bed occupancy was as high as 107% - significantly above the recommended levels of 65 - 70% set out by the Intensive Care Society.

The report also highlighted delays in discharging patients from critical care. In the year 2014-15, 66% of patients were delayed by over four hours. This affected 4,000 patients.

The report also said with an ageing population, "demand for critical care services will outstrip current supply levels". It added serious staff shortages means "the current workforce is beginning to experience added stresses and uncertainty".

The report noted that according to the latest workforce survey, 50% of Welsh critical care units do not meet professional standards for consultant staffing and 80% do not meet all the standards for junior staffing.

The Welsh Government, according to the report, expects health boards in the next 12 months to develop "a clear plan" to address the shortfall.

The report also warned of too many delays in discharging patients from critical care units, with two thirds (66%) of all critical care patients delayed for more than four hours, affecting almost 4,000 patients.

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