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Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services

First published:
25 October 2018
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

I am pleased to share with Members a copy of a report into the resilience of health and care services over winter 2017/18 that makes key recommendations for the forthcoming winter.

A copy of the report can be found at the link below:

In light of learning from the review of winter 2017/18, my officials have worked with national clinical leaders and leads from NHS Wales organisation and local authorities to develop five winter delivery priorities for 2018/19.

The following five priorities were agreed at a national engagement event in May and communicated to LHBs, Local Authorities and the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust by Welsh Government in June:

• Winter delivery priority (WDP) 1: optimising clinical and cross organisational partnerships to develop local winter plans;

• WDP 2: Explicit focus on better management of patients in the community over winter;

• WDP 3: Enhanced operational grip and clinically focussed hospital management to mitigate peaks in activity and manage risk effectively;

• WDP 4: Focus on enabling people to return home from hospital when they are ready; and

• WDP 5: Specific focus on discharge to assess (Home First) approaches to prevent admission or unnecessarily long stays in hospital.

Preparations for winter 2018/19 have been taking place throughout Wales and across organisational boundaries since last winter. Local health boards, the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust and Local Authorities have been working with partners over recent months to develop integrated winter delivery plans for their health and care communities, aligned to these five priorities.  

Integrated winter delivery plans have been received from each health board and feedback has been provided to inform further enhancement of their plans ahead of the winter period.  The Welsh Ambulance Services Trust (WAST) has also developed a national plan that has been considered by the Emergency Ambulance Services Committee (EASC).

In support of delivery of these plans, I am pleased to announce I have identified a £20m package for NHS and its partners in Wales for the busy winter period.

Funding of £16m will be allocated to Local Health Boards to support delivery of actions featured in local plans alongside the ambulance service, Local Authority and third sector partners.

This money will help people to access care closer to home, ensure there is sufficient available hospital capacity and to help people to leave hospital for home when they are ready.

The remaining £4m will fund nationally agreed priorities for the winter period. This funding will be targeted at:

• Extending GP access into evenings and weekends, as well as bank holidays in some areas, to help people access care closer to home;

• Supporting older people who have fallen and are not injured to remain in their homes or care homes;

• Increasing the number of paramedics and nurses in the ambulance clinical contact centres plural to provide advice over the phone and help prevent unnecessary journeys to hospital;

• Increasing capacity in Emergency Departments to support patient flow and to help resettle older, frail people at home following assessment in the department;

• Spreading good practice across Wales from an award winning Welsh Ambulance Service pilot to use highly skilled paramedics to help keep people at home;

• Supporting the ‘My Winter Health Plan’ initiative to help clinicians who visit people at home understand more about their long term conditions and prevent admission to hospital where alternative care would better meet their needs.

The funding announced today is on top of the £5m announced last week to help relieve pressure on critical care units and the £10m announced for delivering sustainable social services.

Officials will continue to work alongside NHS Wales and partner organisations to support their understanding of demand and the capacity required to meet the needs of their population, and to identify opportunities for national and local support, as required.

I intend making a further statement about preparations for the forthcoming winter on 13th November.