Will Welsh NHS cope with “winter pressures?”

Winter is fast approaching and once again the NHS is warning of a busy season ahead – a cynic may say getting its excuses in early for the inevitable long queues at A&E, closed wards and cancelled operations.

As reported by the BBC, the Chief Executive of NHS Wales claimed that 80% of people who visited A&E did not need to be there.

A Wales wide "choose well" scheme aims to encourage people to think carefully before going to A&E and instead consider a range of other options, such as consulting their pharmacist, visiting their GP, or attending a minor injuries clinic.

Yet how practical an option is that given the abject failure of the Welsh Labour Government to ensure an adequate level of primary care services and a GP system that does not appear to be set up to meet the needs of patients?

The appointment systems in many local surgeries may it difficult if not impossible to be seen on the same day – or indeed make any appointment at all unless you can ring within a very small time slot in the morning.

GP Out of Hours services currently do not operate in the Rhondda or Cynon Valleys, putting more pressure on the one remaining unit at the Royal Glamorgan in Llantrisant which is now expected to serve the whole of the Pontypridd constituency and the Rhondda. Cynon residents can go to Merthyr.

This is blamed on a long term lack of doctors which the Welsh Labour Government has failed to adequately address.

As for minor injuries units, the one based at Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda in Llwynypia is open between 9am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday (except Bank Holidays.) You have to phone in advance to make an appointment – are you really going to do that if you have cut your hand open or think you make have broken an arm? Cwm Cynon is open the same hours but there at least there you do not need an appointment. There is no minor injuries unit on the Pontypridd constituency, so if you have a minor injury in, say, Tonteg, where do you go? The Royal Glamorgan A&E.

It is all very well advising patients to choose well, but they have to have a choice.

Karen Roberts

Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly candidate , Rhondda

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Team @ AberdareOnline

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