Fans installed at Gwent Hospital doors to disperse fumes from queuing ambulances
FANS have had to be placed at the doors to Gwent’s major hospital to disperse fumes from ambulances queuing outside.
Health bosses have said there are 300 patients stuck in hospital beds in Gwent who are otherwise well enough to leave, which is causing delays at the Emergency Department at the Grange Hospital near Cwmbran – including leaving patients waiting on ambulances.
Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, which runs the hospital and others in Gwent, said it had worked with the ambulance service to install the fans “to create a safer environment for staff”.
The Welsh Ambulance Service said during October this year its crews spent 2,858 hours waiting to hand over patients at the Grange, which was 13 per cent of the total lost hours in Wales that month.
It’s understood that this week the longest an ambulance was waiting outside the Grange with a patient was 16 and a half hours, with the average wait being two hours.
Monmouth MP David Davies said he had visited the Grange after meeting with the Welsh Ambulance Service and found eight ambulances waiting outside to hand over patients – and said some had been waiting for up to three and a half hours.
He said: “The situation is so bad they’ve had to put fans up to try and blow away the exhaust fumes from outside. They have to keep their engines running to keep their systems going and I think they ought to arrange an electrical hook up to reduce the need for having the engines running for hours like that.
“It can’t be very good if they’ve acknowledged they’ve had to put fans up to blow away the fumes.”
Mr Davies, who also serves as Welsh secretary in the Conservative UK Government, said he had visited the hospital on Friday, November 3, and had chosen a “random” date to see the situation for himself following talks with the ambulance service and said “lots of people” complain about such delays.
The MP, who for a period worked as a Special Constable, said paramedics he has spoken with are concerned about the amount of time they are spending waiting at hospitals, and the impact it is having on the service and their skills.
He said: “A few years ago I went on the back of an ambulance with the paramedics who were going from one 999 call to another and I said they were the hardest working emergency service – and I said this as a Special Police Constable at the time – they barely stopped for breaks. Now they say they normally do one or two calls a day, and they said if you want to meet a paramedic go up to the Grange.”
He said paramedics have also raised concerns that waiting that by attending fewer emergencies they aren’t getting enough experience, or the right volume of work, to maintain their skills.
Lee Brooks, executive director of operations for the Welsh Ambulance Service, acknowledged waiting at hospitals is a concern for the service – but said it has still been able to attend more life-threatened patients within eight minutes than ever before.
He said: “This is a significant issue impeding our ability to respond to patients in a timely manner and we recognise this results in poor experience, and for some, poor outcomes. We apologise to patients who have been affected by this and we will do our best to limit these impacts as activity is set to increase in December.
“It is fair to say that some patients wait a very long time to move from ambulance to hospitals, and during this time our crews are unable to respond to other patients in the community. This means that an ambulance crew will see less patients per shift than they used to and we have heard from our staff this has the potential to erode their clinical skill and confidence.”
Mr Brooks added the service provides training to support staff in maintaining their skills and has introduced leadership roles such as senior paramedics and Cymru High Acuity Response Units (or CHARU) who attend the most critically ill patients.
A spokesman for the Aneurin Bevan Health Board said it recognises some patients are waiting longer than it would want to be transferred into the Emergency Department.
The spokesman said: “This is not a standard of service that we are prepared to accept for our patients and work is under way in the hospital and with our local authority partners to address this as we move into winter.
“We always prioritise patients requiring the most urgent, life-saving treatment and these patients are brought into the Emergency Department without delay.
“We continue to work with our colleagues in the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust to ensure the timely transfer of patients from their ambulance into our care so we can release ambulance crews as quickly as possible to enable them to respond to emergency calls in our community.
“We have also worked with the Ambulance Service to install fans to disperse vehicle emissions from waiting ambulances to create a safer environment for staff.”
The Welsh secretary said he has previously called for the Welsh Labour Government to hold a public inquiry into health care in Gwent.
He said he has been told problems he has raised are issues for the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and said he has had numerous correspondence with the health board.
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