Q&A: Hwyel Dda Health Board on halted operations

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Hwyel Dda Health Board responds to BBC Wales' questions over halted operations.

Q: Could you outline how the plan would impact on patients, which patients are affected and how many patients does the health board estimate could be affected?

A: This remains a proposal at this time. However, we must focus care on the most urgent patients (e.g. emergencies and cancer) at a time of significantly increased demand. We have described how we intend to work on re-profiling our lists over the next few weeks and we would intend to offer patients alternative care/treatment or outpatient review.

Q: How many planned operations had to be cancelled by your health board last year due to winter pressures?

A: (The health board said it was in the process of obtaining figures). Under this proposal we will be utilising our theatres for those with the highest clinical need and ensuring our sites have the resilience to cope with any surges in demand.

Q: The health board said "in previous winters, we had 160 additional beds in place often being managed by temporary staff. This is not a position we can maintain this year". Why is this the case, particularly as the health board is receiving £18.96m this year from the Welsh government largely to deal with unscheduled care pressures?

A: This is about providing the right quality of care. We know from various reports (e.g. Francis and Keogh) organisations need to reduce their reliance on agency and temporary staff. Our surge beds have often been managed by temporary and agency staff and by utilising our permanent staff in a better, planned way we would be able to address this and ensure better standards of care.

Q: How much did the health board spend last year on temporary/locum pay costs as a result of winter pressures? What does the health board estimate it can save by implementing its proposal on non-urgent orthopaedics?

A: The health board spent £6.12m on agency, locum and bank staff between 1 November 2012 and 31 March 2013. The purpose of this proposal is to ensure that we have the resilience in place to manage any winter surge using our permanent staff and we can continue to treat those patients with highest clinical need.

Q: What are the most recent statistics on waiting times for planned orthopaedic surgery in the health board? What is the health board's analysis regarding the impact its plan will have on patient waiting times/lists?

A: This remains a proposal at this time. We have described how we intend to work on re-profiling our lists over the next few weeks and we would intend to offer patients alternative care/treatment or outpatient review.

Q: What is your response to the claim by Plaid Cymru health spokesperson Elin Jones that Hywel Dda health services are in "meltdown"?

A: We have no comment to make on these personal views.

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