Over 100 extra staff are to be taken on help tackle the problem of long waiting times at North Wales’ three main hospitals.

The Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has approved a business plan costing an extra £6.79m which, it is said, will mean that the Emergency Departments at Wrexham Maelor, Glan Clwyd and Ysbyty Gwynedd “have workforce that will ensure patient safety, high quality of patient care and is able to achieve the local national targets.

At present the Board, the largest in Wales, has the longest waiting times, with congestion particularly bad at the Maelor and Glan Clwyd hospitals.

The average attendance at the EDs from 2017-2019 was: Ysbyty Gwynedd 51,000, Glan Clwyd 58,000 and Wrexham Maelor 64,000.

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted on activity but the indications are that the 2021 figures will exceed the pre-pandemic levels.

The report considered by the Board states: “The current medical and non-medical clinical workforce in post in the EDs is not aligned to nationally recognised best practice nor to activity or capacity. This, plus a lack of senior decision makers, particularly overnight, has led to a reliance on a temporary workforce and has contributed to challenges in delivery of access targets.”

According the author of the report, Roshan Robati, who is programme director for unscheduled care, the failure to meet targets is “impacting on patient safety, patient experience and patient outcomes”, adding “as, such, staff morale is low with the subsequent recruitment and retention issues”.

The reasons for the congestion are said to be many, including waiting to be seen by doctors or admitting teams, bed pressures in the acute sites, lack of space in the departments, understaffing and a heavy reliance on bank and agency staff.

Taking on an extra 115 ED staff, taking the total across all three hospitals to 484, should, it is said, enable them to achieve the target of95% of patients being seen by a clinician within an hour, while reducing the number of complaints and improving staff morale.

A task force has already been set up to handle recruitment for the new posts.

The review, which covers medical, nursing and support staff, is based on guidance from the Royal Colleges, Welsh Government initiatives, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales and other external reviews.