Staff across the NHS in Wales have spoken about working on the front lines of a health service that experts fear is failing patients.
They were speaking after a senior A&E consultant warned that there was a crisis on the frontline and that emergency units in Wales were faring worse in some areas than England, where the Red Cross has declared a ‘humanitarian crisis’.
Already this winter, one paramedic has said he was so demoralised he was “no longer proud to wear the uniform” and there have been reports of 12 or more ambulances queuing outside Welsh A&Es.
Despite the warnings, Health Secretary Vaughan Gething denied there was a crisis in accident and emergency care.
What the staff say
Dave Thomson has worked for 25 years as a paramedic in North-East Wales. The first-responder says the current problem is the worst he has ever seen it.
“There is just huge strain on the system – at times it feels like you are working in a pressure cooker.
“This is the worst I have ever seen it, the work and the stress is never ending,” he said.
A&E nurse Gaynor Jones has worked as a nurse for 36 years and currently works at the Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil.
She doesn’t think it is accurate to suggest that this winter is an outlier in the way the NHS works.
“The truth is that while it can get busier in the winter we work under incredible pressure 12 months of the year.
“Nurses are always working to deliver the highest quality of care but they can work 12-hour shifts without getting a chance to stop to get a drink or something to eat.
“Maybe they’ll be able to take one short break,” she said.
But Ms Jones, who is chair of the Royal College of Nursing’s Welsh Board, said that one thing which annoyed staff was patients who didn’t need emergency care turning up at an already crowded A&E.
“Choose well – if you don’t need to go to A&E don’t. If you could be treated better elsewhere then wait and do that, it can make a real difference.”
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