The fuel blockade is causing severe disruption in the health service in Wales, National Assembly Health and Social Services Secretary Jane Hutt said today (Wednesday, 13 September).
She said: "The NHS is under great pressure in Wales. As a result of the fuel shortages patient transport services are being cancelled and patients are having to postpone their hospital appointments. The shortages are also affecting GPs and other community-based staff, including nurses and health visitors who all need fuel to reach their patients. They will shortly also impact on the full range of hospital supplies including food, drugs, laundry and heating fuel.
"The Welsh Blood Service also relies on fuel to staff the service and obtain and transport essential supplies.
"NHS staff are coping admirably but are having great difficulty getting into work which is of grave concern.
"I continue to monitor the situation. The Assembly Health Desk in the Communications Centre is in close contact with the health service in Wales to transmit all advice and information about civil contingency planning and coordinate action. The NHS is doing all it can in an extremely difficult situation outside its control to ensure the minimum disruption possible to patients. The Assembly will give them the backing they need to do this, and will look to give NHS staff priority as fuel supplies can be released.
"The situation is grave and deteriorating. Patients and carers can help by calling on NHS services only when absolutely necessary. But the longer this situation continues the more likely it is that lives will be put at risk.
"Health Authorities and Trusts are operating in emergency mode and together we continue to monitor the effects on services. Priorities will need to be made as emergency health services come under increased risk."
The Assembly has established a Communications Centre at its Cathays Park building to gather information on the effect of the fuel shortage...