Red Cross scheme shows need for more hospital support

Trial support for A&E must continue says Plaid AM

The pressures facing two Emergency Department in north Wales have been highlighted by a pilot project run by the Red Cross.

Of the 9,000 patients supported across Wales in a one-month period, more than 5,400 were in just two Betsi Cadwaladr health board hospitals.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM, said while on a recent visit to meet the Red Cross team: “It was good to meet the team working in Glan Clwyd. It’s remarkable what a small team of staff and volunteers can achieve in supporting hospital staff and taking pressure off nurses seven days a week. They are also vital in supporting patients, many of whom are elderly or vulnerable.

“I was particularly interested in the work done by the Red Cross in helping resettle patients at home or in care and ensuring they’ve got everything they need.”

Mr Gruffydd urged the Welsh Government to maintain funding for the project after the trial ends next month:

“It’s clearly a big help to the overall running of the hospitals involved in this trial and the statistics confirm that this service, which is only funded until the end of March, is needed on a more permanent basis. There’s no such thing as ‘winter pressures’ any more – these are year-round pressures and desperately need addressing.

“It also reveals the immense additional pressures our hospitals in the North are facing – above and beyond the general pressures in all Welsh Emergency Departments. This is, according to staff, because Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in particular is serving a more elderly population that, in some cases, do not have the family networks in place to provide support because they’ve retired here. The team in Glan Clwyd are vital in ensuring a smooth flow of patients through the hospital and my thanks to Cathrin, Karen and Colin for their welcome.”

Emergency Department staff at Wrexham Maelor and Ysbyty Glan Clwyd have been receiving temporary extra support from the British Red Cross this winter. Red Cross staff and volunteers have helped more than 5,400 patients at the two hospitals this winter by providing non-medical assistance and helping to organise transport for patients back home.

The charity is helping patients to collect their medication, equipment and test results, as well as accompanying patients to other hospital departments such as X-ray and offering emotional support.

Since mid-December, the charity has been operating emergency department support services at seven hospitals – Wrexham Maelor Hospital, Glangwili General Hospital in Carmarthen, Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, Withybush General Hospital in Haverfordwest, University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff and Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.

It comes as part of the Welsh Government’s £20m integrated winter delivery plan, with the Red Cross services running until the end of March.

Jackie Williams, Matron of Glan Clwyd Hospital’s Emergency Department, said the support from the Red Cross over the winter had been amazing: “We have received fantastic feedback from the patients here at the Emergency Department who have praised the staff and volunteers for their kindness and support. They really are part of the team here at Glan Clwyd and we’d like to thank them for their continued support during the winter period.”

Cathrin Manning, who is part of the Red Cross team supporting Ysbyty Glan Clwyd’s Emergency Department, said she was pleased they are able to offer support to ease pressures on the health service this winter.

She added: “The staff at both Glan Clwyd and Wrexham Maelor Hospitals have been very welcoming since we arrived in December. We have seen first-hand how busy the departments can be and we are pleased to have been able to provide extra support for patients and the staff.”


Number of patients supported by the British Red Cross by hospital (December 17 2018 to January 16 2019):

Glangwili General Hospital, Carmarthen 614
Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend 404
Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport 575
Withybush Hospital, Haverfordwest 747
Wrexham Maelor Hospital 2,532
University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff 1,219
Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, Bodelwyddan 2,870
Total 8,961
From left, Karen Cross, Colin Cross, Llyr Gruffydd AM and Cathrin Manning

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