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Covid pressure led to Welsh ambulance patient waiting 19 hours outside hospital

An elderly man had to wait more than 19 hours in an ambulance outside a hospital following suspected sepsis or a stroke, his family  said.

Ted Edwards, 73, was at his home in Monmouthshire when paramedics were called at about 00:55 am, the Welsh Ambulance Service (WAS) confirmed, and was still waiting outside Grange University Hospital at 20:30pm, leaving his family "really concerned.”

Aneurin Bevan Health Board said the Covid pandemic had led to it being under significant pressure.

The WAS said it was facing high demand across Wales with acute pressure around Grange University Hospital leading to "some long delays with patients on our ambulances.”

Mr Edwards’s niece, Poppy Vaughan Winter, 25, from Bristol, said she was "really concerned" for her uncle's welfare and was waiting to hear whether he had been admitted.

She said that her aunt, who lives near Monmouth, had been telephoning non-stop for an update on her husband's condition.

The health board said the hospital was dealing with a very high number of Covid patients, which had led to pressure on services. It said that it was struggling to identify beds for patients and confirmed that many ambulances were waiting outside the hospital.

At the time, the average weekly Covid case rate in Wales had been 430.1 per 100,000 and in Monmouthshire it had been 327.7 per 100,000 during the past seven days.

Earlier it appealed to the public to dial 999 only if absolutely necessary, following a critical incident declared by the WAS following high demand on 3 December.

The £350m Grange University Hospital, Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran, is the major accident and emergency centre for almost 600,000 people in the old greater Gwent area.

A health board spokeswoman said the pressure on its hospitals was having a significant impact on staffing levels.

She said: "This is very serious. We are experiencing this demand on our services before we see the normal increase as the result of cold weather and winter flu."
WAS gold commander, Bob Tooby, said: "We now have more than 1,900 Covid 19 patients at hospitals across Wales.

"This has included some long delays with patients on our ambulances, but it would not be appropriate for the patients, or their families, for us to provide  specific details now."

Mr Tooby said the service was appealing to the public to consider first seeking advice from 111 services and NHS Direct Wales "unless it is a serious life-threatening illness or traumatic injury.”