The Welsh Government and local health boards should end the uncertainty surrounding emergency departments in Wales, says a National Assembly committee.
The Public Accounts Committee has also raised concerns about inconsistencies in the way performance-related data is collected by the NHS and recommends that information gathered on service delivery and patient experience is clear.
The Committee held an inquiry following a report from the Auditor General for Wales which found that unscheduled care services in some areas were getting worse – particularly around patient waiting times.
The Committee notes there have been reports of some improvement since that report was published.
"The pressures facing the delivery of unscheduled care services in Wales are complex," said Darren Millar AM, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee.
"While there has been an effort by those working within NHS Wales to drive forward improvement, we are yet to see the major step change in performance that the people of Wales need.
"The Committee concludes that radical solutions are required to address the challenges faced by our health services. We also want to see an end to the uncertainty surrounding the provision of emergency health departments – especially given the challenge that this is presenting to recruitment in our hospitals."
The Committee makes 18 recommendations in its report including:
- There is a need to end uncertainty about the future provision of emergency department services across Wales and recommend that the Welsh Government continues to work with health boards to bring this uncertainty to an end in order to achieve safe and clinically sustainable medical staffing models in emergency departments and to promote the necessary recruitment and retention of staff;
- That the Welsh Government undertakes more work to promote the choices available to patients and the means by which these services might be delivered. For example, we acknowledge that access to primary care may be through access to a health professional other than a GP and this could be over the telephone; and
- That the Welsh Government work with health boards to develop a wider suite of performance measures for unscheduled care that allow quality of care and patient experiences to be measured and recorded in a way which allows for comparisons in the UK and beyond.