Hospital services suspended as another health board falls to staff shortages

Gwent’s health board has become the latest in Wales to cut its services to the public amid staff shortages, as Covid continues to highlight the long-standing, chronic staff shortages in the Labour-run NHS.

 This includes reducing hours at Aneurin Bevan Health Board’s minor injuries unit at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr too despite the Labour Government’s urge for patients to use such services instead of heading straight to A&E at The Grange Hospital, one of the worst struggling in Wales last year.

It comes shortly after Swansea Bay Health Board told people it will only provide a limited service over the recent bank holiday weekend. It found itself appealing to nurses and healthcare workers to volunteer to work extra hours. Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board, which covers North Wales, also suspended elective treatments there shortly before Christmas.

It was revealed last year that there were 3,000 NHS Wales staff vacancies, leading to accusations that the Labour Government continue to preside over a recruitment crisis in the health service.

While coronavirus has been cited as the reason for staff shortages, it is self-isolation rules rather than mass hospitalisation and deaths that have placed the NHS under pressure.

It follows the release of figures uncovered by the Welsh Conservatives that revealed the crisis at the heart of Welsh A&E departments as every single one failed to meet safe staffing levels.

Commenting at the time, Welsh Conservative Russell George MS said A&E units were

“dangerously short-staffed” and “dangerously long waits” facing Welsh patients was due to the fact that not a single emergency department had safe staffing levels was “disgraceful”.

Mr George, who is also Shadow Health Minister, said the current situation felt like “dominoes falling across the country to the detriment of patients”.

He continued:

“It is concerning to see the NHS – something we all cherish and pay for – come to a situation where it cannot give its best to the public, especially services which the Labour Government is trying to get us to use instead of emergency departments.

“We know that these closures are not down to the health service coming under pressure from mass hospitalisations and deaths from Covid, but from staff with the virus having to self-isolate.

“Eventually, the same will be true but without the staff absences as that is clearly what living with the virus will mean. Sooner or later, we will stop talking about moving on from the pandemic, and actually do so with political consensus.

“We should not forget that 3,000 NHS staff vacancies in Wales has meant chronic staff shortages in the Labour-run NHS for years, and the failure to safely staff A&E departments even when Covid hospitalisations were low shows Labour has lost its grip on the NHS, to the detriment of all.”

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