Welsh Labour cuts NHS beds as waiting list hits 750k
It has been revealed that the number of NHS beds has fallen again last year, despite the treatment backlog covering a fifth of the population, congested A&E departments, and record ambulance delays.
Official statistics released today show the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay oversaw a fall in NHS Wales beds from 10,340 to 10,275 in 2020/21.
During the devolution era, when Labour has led every government, the number of beds has been cut by 30%, down from 14,723 in 1999/00, falling year-on-year ever since.
The average daily number of occupied beds in 2021/22 was 8,342, an increase of 1,171.7 (16.3%) compared to the previous year. The percentage occupancy of NHS beds in last year was 81.2% – 11.8 percentage points more than 2020/21.
Commenting, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies MS said:
“It is astonishing that the Labour Government has chosen to cut the number of NHS beds just as demand on the NHS has sky-rocketed because ministers failed to prepare for post-lockdown recovery, with one saying it would be ‘foolish’ to publish a plan during the pandemic.
“While it could be argued that bed numbers are down as capacity is being redistributed closer to communities, it comes up against the brutal reality that A&E is busier than ever, ambulance response times are at record lows, and 1-in-5 people are on Britain’s longest waiting lists.
“This is a naïve and chaotic approach to running a health service under pressure like never before, but it is about to get much worse under Labour as nurses are to vote on striking this winter, just as we learn that NHS nurse vacancies have risen by a thousand in the last year alone.
“This is the cost of Labour – now they need to get a grip on the NHS and stop breaking all the wrong records.”
Last month saw Wales record it worst-ever ambulance response times for red calls. There have been significant delays in transferring patients from ambulances into hospital and stories of overwhelmed A&E departments since society and services re-opened after lockdowns.
Meanwhile, three-quarters of a million people are on an NHS treatment waiting list, with 1-in-4 of them waiting over a year, and 59,000 waiting over two years. Two year waits have virtually been eliminated in England and Scotland.