The entire hospital full of patients ready to leave but with nowhere to go

Hundreds of people are stuck in hospital with no care in place for them to leave -Credit:PA
Hundreds of people are stuck in hospital with no care in place for them to leave -Credit:PA

There are around 300 patients who are ready to leave hospital in one Welsh health board area. It's the equivalent of an entire hospital full of patients who no longer need to be there, members of Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board told Rhondda Cynon Taf full council at a meeting about its performance.

It was also revealed that attendance at A&Es in Cwm Taf Morgannwg was now lower than it was before Covid. Figures for the health board, which covers Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT), Merthyr Tydfil, and Bridgend, show that total A&E attendances over a three-year period from 2021 to 2024 were down 4%. The number of ambulances going to Cwm Taf Morgannwg hospitals has also fallen by 16% and admissions are down by 7%.

During the update to full council, chief operating officer for the health board, Gethin Hughes, said the lower A&E attendance was more pronounced at the Royal Glamorgan and Prince Charles hospitals than at the Princess of Wales Hospital. But he said they were holding more patients in their emergency departments because, although they were admitting fewer people, those they were admitting were staying for a much longer period of time – on average three days longer than before Covid for each patient. For the latest Rhondda news, sign up to our newsletter here

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Mr Hughes said that equated to them using around 140 more beds than they were using pre-Covid and part of that challenge was the extreme length of stay with patients staying for more than 29 days, which had risen considerably. He said that was why they were working with the council to look at different ways to support people to come home.

Mr Hughes said that the length of stay for those with dementia would probably average out about 30 days while it’s about five days for those who don’t have dementia. He said part of it was about what they did in the community and how they had better advanced planning for patients. To get all the latest Pontypridd news straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

He said it was a “real challenge” and that was what was causing some of the experiences of patients waiting an intolerable amount of time in emergency departments, but also the challenge of handing over ambulances in a timely way. Mr Hughes said they were getting the vast majority of ambulance crews off within a four-hour window and they then needed to get that down to an hour as the actual handover period should probably be 15 minutes.