Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
Julie Morgan MS, Deputy Minister for Social Services
Our health service is facing unprecedented demand this winter. Some people are staying in hospital longer than they need to and this, in turn, has a severe knock-on effect for planned care and creates delays for the ambulance service. Most importantly, every unnecessary extra day in hospital has a detrimental effect on peoples’ own recovery and longer-term outcomes.
Earlier this year we knew that the coming winter would be very challenging, and that is why NHS organisations and local authorities have been working together for many months to develop extra community capacity to help people get care closer to home this Winter. We have been jointly chairing a Care Action Group of senior NHS and local government leaders to drive progress. As a result of this joint endeavour across health and social care, a minimum of 508 extra community beds and home care packages will be available, and this will have a positive impact on releasing hospital beds in every part of Wales.
Step Down beds, and community packages of care arranged through micro care and more extensive use of Direct Payments, will support people to return to their communities when they no longer need treatment in hospital but may require more time, support, and care. An extra 508 beds and community care packages have been confirmed by local health boards and local authorities so far, with more currently being developed. The additional capacity is being funded from the Welsh Government’s Regional Integration Fund and local authorities and health boards’ own resources.
Alongside this, prevention of poor health and wellbeing is a top priority, which will also help to reduce demand on our acute services. The NHS and local authorities continue to help individuals and communities to access information, advice and support locally, as early as possible to prevent their needs escalating. For example, community connector schemes and social prescribing programmes are helping people to access the many resources in their community to help them stay well at home.
There are many ways to get the right care, in the right place, first time. From pharmacists to minor injury units and mental health helplines to online consultations, there are many ways to access the NHS in Wales. So, it’s easier to get care, help and advice with new or existing conditions, even without leaving your home or workplace.
Our commitment in the draft Budget to allocate an additional £70m to ensure social care workers in Wales will receive the Real Living Wage demonstrates Welsh Government’s commitment to the care system, and we will build on this to develop stronger community health and social care services.