NEW services are being developed to improve access to urgent and emergency care across Wales so people get the right care, in the right place, the first time.

The NHS is making changes and improvements to the way it provides services – including increasing staffing in crucial areas – as part of the Six Goals for Urgent and Emergency Care programme.

It has been designed to support urgent and emergency care, to help people access services as close to home as possible and only spend time in hospital when necessary.

As the NHS and care system is facing unprecedented pressure, an extra £25m will be available every year to support the Six Goals programme.

In 2022-23, this includes around £20m for health boards and partners to increase capacity in urgent primary care and same-day emergency care services and a new £4m innovation and delivery fund to support nationally coordinated projects to support the delivery of the six goals.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “The NHS is under a lot of pressure at the moment but every day it provides life-saving and life-changing care for tens of thousands of people across Wales.

“The Six Goals programme is designed to help improve access to urgent and emergency care for all those people who need this care and ensure there are alternative services available for those people who need a different type of response – we want everyone to get the best possible care, as quickly as possible and as close to home as possible. But it’s also important they get it from the right service the first time.”

The Health Minister will visit the Princess of Wales Hospital’s ambulatory emergency surgery unit today (Thursday 19 May), which provides same-day surgery for urgent cases. This allows people to be seen and treated quickly and to return home as soon as it is safe for them to do so. Hospital beds are then available for those people who need to be admitted overnight.

In its first year of operation, the unit increased the number of people who were able to be discharged home after investigation and treatment within three hours from 28% to 80%. The number of people who needed to be admitted for surgical procedures reduced from 35% to 10%.

 Simon Weaver, the consultant who runs the unit at Princess of Wales Hospital, in Bridgend, said: “Our priority at the unit is always the patient experience. Our unit was set up to provide people with the best and most suitable treatment at the correct time.

“As a result of this, we see improved outcomes for our patients, allowing them to move on with their everyday lives far more quickly. Providing treatment in this way means that we are not only significantly reducing waiting times and costs, but most importantly, putting the needs of the patient first.”

The six goals for urgent and emergency care are:

  • Coordination, planning and support for people at greater risk of needing urgent or emergency care
  • Signposting to the right place, first time
  • Access to clinically safe alternatives to hospital admission
  • Rapid response in a physical or mental health crisis
  • Optimal hospital care following admission
  • Home-first approach and reduce risk of readmission

Each health board will be asked to submit plans showing they are meeting the programme’s priorities, which includes setting up urgent primary care centres and same-day emergency care services; recruiting new Six Goals programme improvement teams consisting of clinical, operational and analytical expertise and working on additional projects that align to delivery of one or more of the six goals.

Significant progress has been made since the plan was launched and includes the nationwide rollout of the 111 service across Wales – urgent health advice is now available across Wales, 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week following the successful rollout of the 111 helpline.

The service, which is run by the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, and can be accessed online at 111.wales.nhs.uk or by telephone by calling 111, gives people up-to-date health advice and guidance on which NHS service is right for them.

The NHS 111 Wales website includes more than 65 symptom checkers and information about local services, and should be everyone’s first port of call before making a phone call.