WQ90288 (e) Tabled on 08/01/2024

How many additional community beds is the Welsh NHS and social care system on track to provide for winter 2023-24, and how many community beds will this amount to in total?

Answered by Minister for Health and Social Services | Answered on 18/01/2024

I made a statement to Plenary on 16 January about winter pressures and the work the Welsh Government and NHS organisations had undertaken to prepare for winter.

A whole system approach to winter delivery is in place with expectations of primary, community, planned, social and acute services to enhance capacity during predicted periods where admissions are likely to increase. As part of the annual planning cycle, health boards are asked to produce additional bed capacity plans aligned to forecast demand and, given our concerns about ambulance responsiveness, an NHS winter ambulance patient handover improvement plan is being implemented. This features key actions delivered by health boards and the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, with weekly progress monitoring meetings between the Welsh Government, NHS Executive and NHS organisations.

As part of broader transformation plans to enable an increase in capacity across the system, we allocated £25m to support the delivery of the six goals for urgent and emergency care improvement programme plans. This has supported the:

  • National roll-out of NHS 111 Wales press 2 for mental health. More than 400 people accessed urgent mental health support through the service in December
  • 13 new urgent primary care centres and new remote navigation hubs, helping around 10,000 people a month to access care away from the emergency department
  • 24 new same day emergency care services – 5,000 patients a month have avoided hospital admission.

This winter, additional funding has also been made available to increase transport capacity for patients discharged from emergency departments; enhanced community care technology enabled care to support people to safely avoid admission or return home from hospital when ready; and for fracture liaison services.

Emergency departments and minor injury units have also received a share of £2.7m to enhance environments for better patient and staff experience this winter.

Delivering care closer to home is dependent on community resource that is able to meet a wide range of needs and can include equipment, health and care workforce and community beds. Building on the increased community capacity from last winter, health boards have therefore been provided with a further £8.24m and asked to work with their regional partners to identify our most vulnerable populations and increase community care provision so that they are better able to prevent and respond to their urgent needs at home where it is safe and appropriate to do so.

This funding is in addition to £5m allocated to health boards to increase allied health professionals and the £146m provided to regional partnership boards annually for community service transformation.