A major Welsh hospital’s accident and emergency has been branded inadequate by the Assembly’s first minister.
Carwyn Jones said Morriston Hospital’s A&E facility in Swansea was too small when it was originally built following claims patients admitted to the unit were waiting too long to get a bed.
During First Minister’s questions in the Senedd, Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black said almost one in three patients at Morriston had to wait more than four hours to be treated, and one in 10 faced a wait of more than eight hours.
Mr Black said the matter was a “systemic issue” in the way the NHS was organised and that this was having a knock-on effect on the Welsh Ambulance Service.
Mr Jones replied: “The problem at Morriston, to put it bluntly, is the A&E was too small when it was built.
“What’s happening now is Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Local Health Board has been asked to draw up plans to extend the emergency department.
“Our officials are working with the local health board to bring about the necessary improvement that will ease the difficulties that have occurred from people coming from the ambulances into A&E.”
Welsh Conservative AM Nick Ramsey said the issues identified by Mr Black were “symptomatic of ongoing problems” across Wales in regards to ambulance waiting times.
Mr Ramsey said the Assembly government had failed to meet its targets for ambulances responding to life-threatening calls within eight minutes.
In 2009, the government set a target for 95 per cent of A&E patients to be discharged or admitted to hospital within four hours.
According to reports, however, last December Morriston Hospital’s A&E saw 69 per cent of patients within four hours, with the figure for November and October being 80 per cent and 78 per cent respectively.
“There have been a number of incidents where police cars, fire engines and St John’s ambulances have been used to take people to hospital because ambulances weren’t always available,” Mr Ramsey added.
“You’ve already said that you are refusing to protect the health budget in Wales as is happening in England.
“Will you tell us how your plans to take a billion pounds out of the Welsh health service over the next three years is going to improve the situation with ambulances?”
However, Mr Jones said the notion that the NHS budget was being protected in England was a “myth” - adding that 1,013 frontline staff were facing losing their jobs at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust.
“I didn’t raise the issue of hospitals in England, Nick did,” said the first minister.
“The idea that NHS trusts are being protected in England is a complete and utter myth.”