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Delays for heart patients at Swansea emergency department


Patients with heart attack symptoms are not being seen quickly enough at a Swansea emergency department, a report has found.

Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) has reported 25 areas where improvements were necessary at Morriston Hospital.

Delays were "beyond national guidelines", including assessment of people with chest pain.

The report also found that some patients were being left waiting on "unsuitable surfaces" for "extensive periods."

The inspection concluded that, despite staff efforts, patients were not consistently receiving quality care.

HIW completed an unannounced inspection of the emergency department on three consecutive days when a number of assessment areas were also inspected, including the children's emergency unit, rapid assessment unit and the surgical decision making unit.

HIW's general areas for improvement included patient privacy and dignity, nutrition and hydration, infection prevention and control, and staffing levels.

Inspectors reported a lack of timely care and treatment. They noted that people were generally receiving a safe service, but this was affected by poor patient flow within the department and wider hospital.

The HIW said the department has "good management and leadership" and patients stated they were happy with the care provided by staff but patient privacy and dignity was compromised due to the high number of patients accessing the service.

HIW chief executive, Alun Jones, said: "There are mounting pressures on NHS services and, like all hospitals across Wales, Morriston Hospital continues to face extraordinary challenges due to increased demand and staff shortages.

"HIW acknowledges the health board is working hard to make improvements and reduce waiting times. Our report sets out specific recommendations that the health board needs to address in order to improve. We will continue to engage with Swansea Bay University Health Board to ensure progress against our findings."

Swansea Bay health board said: "Our senior clinicians and management team have already reviewed its findings in detail to produce a comprehensive action plan, and will work hard to implement the necessary changes in order to improve the service."

The board added that the HIW inspection was at a time of "intense pressure and unrelenting demand, which continues to be the case across the UK as we try to overcome the challenges experienced, brought about by the pandemic."

It added that it was pleased by the findings of good management and leadership, and staff feeling supported and said: "We are particularly proud of our staff who are working hard to provide patients with a positive experience and good levels of care despite extreme pressures."

The health board said it was "completely overhauling" its acute medicine service, and launching a new acute hub at Morriston, with the aim of treating a larger proportion of patients there rather than in the emergency department. The new hub will focus on same-day care, to cut the number of patients having to be admitted to wards, which was in turn designed to help patient flow.