WREXHAM'S MP says 'several high profile failings' have left healthcare in the area in a 'dire state'

Last year, Sarah Atherton told the Leader how patients in Wrexham were being 'failed' and revealed a number of complaints received from constituents.  

A year later, following what she describes as 'persistent, major issues, including unacceptably long ambulance and A&E waiting times', Mrs Atherton has spoken about the worsening situation.

Wrexham's MP highlights 'several high-profile failings' when it comes to healthcare in the area, including Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) re-entering special measures following a damning audit report. 

Mrs Atherton says the 'chaotic management' at the top is filtering down to patients and NHS staff whose morale is at 'rock bottom'.

A recent probe found that £122 million of BCUHB expenditure was not properly accounted for, with Mrs Atherton calling for a police investigation into the misappropriation of funds.

The Leader: Sarah Atherton MPSarah Atherton MP

Concerns over parking at the Maelor Hospital and lack of NHS dentists were also discussed by the Wrexham MP, which 'shows no signs of improvement'.

Mrs Atherton also revealed some healthcare complaints received by constituents, including:

  • An 89-year-old woman who resided in a care home and waited 15 hours for an ambulance following a suspected stroke – then waited a further 8 hours in an ambulance outside Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
  • A Wrexham constituent who was told that he would have to wait two and a half years for an initial orthopaedic consultation prior to any treatment.
  • Accounts of paramedics waiting in ambulances and caring for patients outside Wrexham Maelor A&E for up to 24 hours due to staffing shortages.

Sarah Atherton MP said: “It goes without saying that every health service failure is desperately sad. However, a recent case I dealt with was especially upsetting. A cancer survivor was forced to wait 24 hours in the back of the ambulance; another 24 hours in A&E; only to be taken to the Medical Assessment Unit overnight, where her painkillers were given to another patient. Sadly, stories like these are all too common.

"Most of my constituents now feel that complaining is pointless because nothing changes. More worrying still, many residents are now starting to think that this sub-standard level of healthcare is normal.


“Parking at the Maelor is diabolical. Clearly, the ‘cut and shut’ structure of the hospital is not fit for purpose. This is exactly why I launched a campaign for a new Wrexham hospital. Residents who have waited months for an appointment – if not years – have contacted me to say they have missed their appointment due to poor parking arrangements.

"When I was at the Maelor recently, I spoke to two Wrexham Council Traffic Wardens who expressed their sympathy for desperate residents parking on double yellow lines to keep appointments. Unfortunately, they must still be ticketed. 

“It is incredibly disappointing to see that, since my article last year highlighting the dire state of local health services, things have gotten worse. BCUHB is in special measures for the second time. £122 million of funds have been misappropriated. It is near-impossible to access an NHS dentist. And major problems persist with A&E and ambulance waiting times at the Maelor. Is it any wonder that Welsh NHS staff and patients have reached the end of their tether?”

The Leader: Dr Nick Lyons.Dr Nick Lyons.

Dr Nick Lyons, Deputy Chief Executive, said: “The challenges facing the Health Board have been well documented and although many of these are shared by NHS organisations across the UK, some are felt much more acutely here in North Wales.  We are under no illusions about the scale of the improvement journey that we need to undertake and we are determined to use the Special Measures process as an opportunity to deliver the meaningful and sustainable improvements required.

“It is also important that we do not lose sight of the fact that our services reach tens of thousands of North Wales residents every day and most of these people have a good experience of the NHS, most of the time. Where we have failed to provide the high standard of care that our patients rightly expect, we are determined to use their feedback as a basis for improving our services.

“Turning to the specific issue of car parking at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, we fully appreciate how challenging this can be for patients, visitors and staff and we do not underestimate the stress and anxiety it can cause. We are continually looking at options to address this and later this year we will begin to relocate some services currently provided at the hospital to Plas Gororau, which has 200 additional car parking spaces. This development will play an important role in alleviating car parking pressures at the Maelor.”