A HEALTH board has apologised after an “extremely busy day” at Wrexham Maelor Hospital left a queue of 11 ambulances outside the A&E department.
The backlog of ambulances with patients waiting to be seen by medical teams on Tuesday was described as “ridiculous”.
Betsi Cadwaldr University Health Board (BCUHB) said they were experiencing a busier day than usual and were dealing with patients as quickly as possible.
Paul Peters, of Wrexham, who went to the hospital for a physio appointment, said he was “dumbfounded” by what he saw.
“At its worst there were 11 ambulances queuing outside A&E,” he said.
“That is ridiculous, incredible even.
“There can’t have been many ambulances available to go out in Wrexham at that moment.
“What happens if people desperately need an ambulance – if it’s a matter of life or death?
“I’ve been left dumfounded by it but I don’t know who to feel sorry for the most – patients or staff?”
A statement from Prof Matthew Makin, executive medical director for BCUHB, issued on Tuesday, said: “The A&E department at Wrexham Maelor Hospital is extremely busy today with a high number of attendances and admissions.
“We are sorry that some of our patients are not being seen as quickly as usual and have had to wait for care and treatment, but our winter plans and the hard work of staff is enabling us to manage.
“There are fluctuations during the day and we are working closely with the Welsh Ambulance Service to make sure patients get into hospital as quickly as possible.
“We are also working to make sure that patients who are ready to leave hospital do not have their discharges delayed.
“Our locality teams, which bring together the health services patients need in the community, including GPs, social services and the voluntary sector, are providing ongoing support for patients at home, helping to reduce pressures on the hospital system.
“Patients can also help us by using the service that is most appropriate for their needs, such as their local high street pharmacy, GP, minor injuries unit or NHS Direct Wales.”
The Maelor delays came in the same week it emerged that one in four patients at the A&E department at Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan wait longer than the four-hour target time for treatment or discharge.
Yesterday, Welsh Government health minister Mark Drakeford announced plans for new patient-focused health targets for A&E and the ambulance service, to be developed from April.
These new measures will focus on the clinical results patients receive from treatment rather than solely on the time it takes for patients to receive treatment.
They will involve a trial of a scheme based on clinical priority and another of a scheme based on waiting times from arrival to time of treatment started.
Mr Drakeford said: “I want us to judge the success of our services by measuring things which make a difference to patients and the effectiveness of the treatment they receive.
“This development work will make sure what we measure is more meaningful in terms of clinical benefit and outcomes for patients, rather than on the basis of time alone.”