Wales Consultant SAS doctor Junior doctor

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Call for 'massive' critical care beds increase

Almost 300 extra critical care beds are needed in Welsh hospitals over the next decade, a new report recommends.

hospital bedsA Delivery Plan for the Critically Ill says a massive increase in critical care capacity is needed to meet demand now and in the future. 

It points out Wales has the lowest number of critical care beds per head in Europe.

BMA Welsh secretary Richard Lewis said the report was evidence that Wales was falling behind.

He said: ‘This is a concerning report which indicates that Wales is lagging behind in delivering the necessary number of critical care beds to serve the people of Wales.

‘By not speedily addressing these problems now, we are not providing the high standards and quality of care necessary for those patients requiring critical care.

‘It also does not bode well for attracting the medical expertise that Wales needs when it is clearly falling behind on such a crucial component of healthcare.’

Near capacity

The report, published by the All Wales Critical Care Implementation Group — an assembly of leads from across the Welsh NHS — highlights a study, devised by The North Wales Critical Care Network in 2013, which found there was a need for an additional 73 beds in Wales immediately, rising to 295 in 10 years’ time.

Mark DrakefordAccording to the report, not all current beds are adequately used because of delays in patient discharge and high numbers admitted inappropriately when palliative care is more suitable.

It also claims that when beds are available, there are often staffing issues and that most critical care units run at above the recommended 75 per cent occupancy rate.

Welsh health and social services minister Mark Drakeford (pictured) has said an additional 10 critical care beds have been opened across the country in the past year and health boards have plans for eight more.

He said: ‘Health boards will be expected to reduce the number of hours lost to delayed transfers of care from critical care units by 10 per cent every quarter until they reach a position where no more than 5 per cent of bed availability is being lost to delayed transfers.’

 Read A Delivery Plan for the Critically Ill

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