UNDER-PRESSURE staff at a Swansea hospital claim patient waiting time figures — which are the worst in Wales — are going up because of the decision to axe acute medicine at Neath Port Talbot Hospital.
New figures released by the Welsh Government show only 81.3 per cent of patients were seen at Morriston Hospital's A&E department within four hours in October.
At Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend only 84.6 per cent of patients were seen within the timescale, which is also among the lowest figures in Wales.
The target set by the Welsh Government is that 95 per cent of patients should be seen within four hours at A&E departments.
A Morriston Hospital staff member, who did not wish to be named, claimed the worsening figures were a direct knock-on effect of changes pushed through at Neath Port Talbot Hospital.
She claimed: "The closure of the acute medical intake at Neath Port Talbot Hospital is now resulting in Morriston Hospital being the worst and Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend being one of the worst performing in Wales against the four-hour target.
"There's been a steady fall in the figures following the closure of the acute medical intake in Neath."
Neath Port Talbot Hospital did not have a full-scale accident and emergency department but had been able to handle medical emergencies, including blood clotting or infections, until the changes came into force at the unit at the beginning of September.
It meant that the site would no longer handle 999 medical emergencies and changes to GP referrals also came into effect.
At the time, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (ABM) said that changes were forced on them by a chronic shortage of doctors at Neath Port Talbot Hospital.
An ABMU spokeswoman said: "There are many factors which influence waiting times in our departments.
"For example, an increasing number of people arriving with chronic illnesses who need a lot of medical attention.
"Increased cases of sickness and diarrhoea reduce the number of beds available.
"And patients arriving who are not seriously ill or injured could use more appropriate services, such as the Minor Injury Units at Neath Port Talbot or Singleton Hospitals. Also, the expansion work at the Emergency Department in Morriston Hospital has unavoidably caused some disruption.
"In partnership with the Welsh Ambulance Service, we have recently introduced a mobile team of Advanced Paramedic Practitioners. These are paramedics who are trained with advanced skills to provide specialist treatment at a scene or at a patient's home and help reduce the number of people going into hospital.
"We recognise our performance figures are not as we would like them to be."