A REVIEW into the NHS in Wales has found that sustained pressure on healthcare services is leading to risks to emergency care, staffing concerns and more. 

Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) published its annual report for 2022-2023 on Wednesday, December 6. The report summarises all of their activity, including the inspection of NHS and independent healthcare services.

Their findings outline the sustained pressure on healthcare services across Wales, highlighting risks relating to emergency care, staffing concerns, poor patient flow and the accessibility of appointments.

HIW says they continued to focus on patient safety throughout the inspection and assurance work by challenging healthcare services to look for different ways of working to improve outcomes for patients.

They also added that healthcare staff engaged well with the inspections and worked constructively to tackle any issues highlighted. 

Concerns were raised over the lengthy delays faced by patients and also the dissatisfaction of staff regarding the pressured environments they find themselves in.

The inspectorate added their work also highlighted the issue of poor patient flow, with intense daily pressures around patient admission and bed management.

Within Emergency Departments across Wales, HIW noted overcrowding, long waits for triage and long waits for treatment, plus ongoing delays in being admitted into the most appropriate beds. 

HIW stated they found issues regarding accessibility to dentists, GPs and mental health facilities, which was also rasied by patients during the review.

The feedback from members of the public was labelled "highly concerning", with HIW saying it is an early warning of future public health challenges which must be heeded.

Many settings were issued with improvement plans following HIW's findings and recommendations, which continue to be followed up on to "ensure robust action is taken to improve outcomes".

Alun Jones, Chief Executive of Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, said: “Now, more than ever, healthcare in Wales needs continued innovation, and a vision and understanding of what works and what does not.

"In these challenging times, HIW has a clear role to play in providing independent assurance on the quality of healthcare services, highlighting what good looks like and providing challenge where standards are not being met.

"Our work has once again illustrated the sustained pressure on healthcare services across Wales, highlighting risks relating to emergency care, staffing levels, poor patient flow and the accessibility of appointments.

"Through our work we have once again seen a highly skilled and committed workforce, delivering care with compassion and innovation. The workforce of the NHS remains its biggest asset and is central to navigating the challenges that lie ahead.”


As pressures across Wrexham and Flintshire continue, Adele Gittoes, Interim Executive Director of Operations for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: “The winter months can be challenging for the NHS, especially urgent care services and the discharging of patients. To ease this pressure, we are putting a range of measures in place including supporting the national six goals for unplanned care in Wales which covers emergency and urgent care.   

"Our core message to the public is ‘help us to help you’ and please attend the most appropriate service for their healthcare needs including their local Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) in Mold and Holywell, pharmacy, GP and dental services. Community pharmacies can provide expert advice and guidance about treating common ailments, conditions and their symptoms.

“If you're unsure of where to go please contact NHS Wales 111 for advice or visit the Health Board’s website. The NHS Wales 111 Option 2 urgent mental health support is also now available for people to call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. See our Mental Health Hub for further information and mental health support resources.

“We will continue to share and signpost people to appropriate healthcare services throughout winter.”