A BBC Documentary has highlighted the current pressures faced by NHS staff in North Wales. 

BBC Wales Investigates broadcasted a documentary last week, which revealed that patients in Wales are on average spending over 60% longer being treated in hospital compared to England.

The finding has come from research carried out by the Nuffield Trust – one of the UK’s leading organisations looking at health data.

This winter as the NHS had to deal with the Omicron outbreak as well as seasonal demand, BBC Wales Investigates was given access to film over five months with teams of staff in Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board to get a glimpse of the pressures being faced.

At Wrexham Maelor’s Accident and Emergency Department the BBC Wales Investigates team saw first-hand how staff struggled to find space to assess patients, with many stuck in ambulances outside.

READ MORE: Elderly Wrexham woman with broken hip waits more than 17 hours for ambulance

The unit’s manager Lindsey Bloor says she’s having to apologise to patients for unacceptably long waits, but staff are doing all they can.

Lindsey Bloor said: “For me personally having someone outside on an ambulance for 9 hours is very uncomfortable, and often we will have a plan to bring the longest person in, but then someone will come into the waiting room with chest pains, for example and clinically is more urgent than a patient that is stable on the back of an ambulance.”

95% of patients should be seen and treated within 4 hours, but Wales has never hit that target and the figures have got worse over the last decade as they have struggled to cope with demand.

READ MORE: More staff and facilities needed at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, report finds

But other key data suggests Wales has a deeper problem with treating patients, once they make it into hospital. In Wales the average time for hospital treatment is 7 days, while in England it’s just over 4 days. That’s 63% longer for treatment in a Welsh hospital compared to England.

Mark Dayan, Head of Public Affairs at the Nuffield Trust said he was surprised by the results, and said the large difference couldn’t be wholly explained by Wales’s greater health needs. He said:“That's a massive difference and that really matters to the running of the Health Service because that determines how many patients you can get through it."

BBC Investigates also looked into the length of waiting lists in North Wales, current staff shortages as well as how it could be turned around. 

READ MORE: "Substantial" increase in Wrexham Maelor Hospital assaults during pandemic

Betsi Cadwaladr Medical Director Nick Lyons says the challenge has attracted new people, but he is concerned about keeping the staff he needs to do the job.

The Leader: Nick Lyons.Nick Lyons.

“I do worry there will be people who are exhausted, who are tired, who now may now be looking at their pension to see if it  would allow them to retire early and that will potentially prove challenging for us, not least because there is a backlog of work that we now need to be eating into.”

READ MORE: 12 hour delays and £13k loans: Just how Wrexham patients are being 'failed'

In response to the Nuffield Trust’s figures on length of stay, Judith Paget the Chief Executive of NHS Wales argued that it was a hugely complex system that couldn’t fixed by changes in the NHS alone, but plans were in place.

“I recognise we need to speed up some of the changes that we’ve got in place. We’ve had resources made available by Welsh Government to do so and I and everybody who works in the NHS will be trying to escalate those responses as we go forward.”

The documentary can be watched on BBC iPlayer.