The Welsh Government has announced £2m to upgrade emergency department waiting areas this winter.
The improvements will provide facilities in hospital emergency departments, including improved seating, information screens, better access to water or food stations and improvements to Wi-Fi and electrical charging points.
The funding is in addition to plans the Welsh Government, NHS and local government have put in place to prepare for winter. These include recruiting 100 new ambulance clinicians and changes to staff rosters to improve ambulance response times.
Health and Social Services Minister Eluned Morgan said:
None of us want to go to hospital, but if we need to this extra investment to improve emergency department waiting rooms should make the experience a little easier.
The announcement comes as the Welsh Government today publishes its plan for seasonal respiratory viruses, including coronavirus, this autumn and winter. Our Public Health Approach to Respiratory Viruses outlines how the NHS and care services are preparing ahead of an anticipated seasonal peak in demand.
The plans include:
- Protecting the most vulnerable from serious disease
- Acting quickly to respond to changing circumstances, including re-introducing stronger advice, such as wearing face coverings and additional Covid testing, if cases rise sharply
- Partnering with Public Health Wales to ensure surveillance of infectious viruses
- Protecting people who are at greatest risk by offering free flu and Covid-19 vaccines.
Planning assumptions for this winter are based on the assumption that levels of flu and other respiratory viruses will be higher this winter, compared to the last two years. The circulation of respiratory viruses – such as flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) – have been lower during the pandemic due to social restrictions.
The Minister said:
Winter is always a busy and challenging period for our health and care services, but we plan throughout the year to ensure they are as prepared as possible.
Unfortunately, the pandemic hasn’t gone away and over the last fortnight there’s been a rise in infections in the community and in hospital admissions. Vaccination remains our best defence against both coronavirus and flu. Tens of thousands of people are being vaccinated every week and it’s never too late to be vaccinated.
We can take a few simple steps to help us stay well this winter – like washing our hands often, wearing a face covering in crowded indoor places and staying at home if we’re ill, as well as getting our annual flu jab and Covid booster if we’re eligible.