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100,000 extra patients on Wales NHS waiting list in just one year

22 Sep 2022 5 minute read
Photograph by Silas Camargo Silão from Pixabay.

Patients and NHS staff in Wales deserve a healthcare system “at least as good as elsewhere in the UK,” Welsh Conservatives have said, as the NHS waiting list in Wales rises by nearly 100,000 in just one year.

Latest Welsh NHS data for July showed the number of patients waiting for treatment – on patient pathways – at 743,229, up from 644,463 in 2021 – leaving well over a fifth of the Welsh population on the waiting list.

The number of people waiting over two years is now 60,557 – up from 15,790 a year ago.

“Time and time again we see these extraordinary waits in the Labour-run NHS but little strategy to tackle them – the statement on winter pressures from the Minister this week contained no plan – with two-year waits at over 60,000 compared to less than 3,000 in both England and Scotland,” Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said.

“Not only that, but we can then look at England and see surgical hubs, a modernised and technologically efficient system, and a new plan to ensure people can see GPs within a fortnight, with poor performers named and shamed using league tables.

“Patients and NHS staff in Wales deserve a healthcare system at least as good as elsewhere in the UK but, instead, Labour insist on us putting up with what we’re given as they plunder public funds to stuff Cardiff Bay with 36 new politicians and impose the dreaded tourism tax on our nation.

Concerns were also raised by Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS.

“We urgently need to see an action plan for winter. The service is clearly struggling to cope even now before the winter season begins.

“While we understand there are huge backlogs from Covid, that is not an excuse for Wales to consistently rank below England and Scotland.

“None of this is due to our amazing NHS staff who work hard to keep things going. Looking after our NHS staff will play a key role in reducing waiting times. The Welsh Liberal Democrats want to see staff recruited and retrained through a Burnout Prevention strategy that offers annual leave guarantees, higher pay and better conditions.”

She added: “Significant delays in ambulance response times are due to backlogs at A&E departments resulting in patients having to wait in ambulances outside.

“What we need to see is real investment in primary health services in local communities, including our GPs to prevent these build-ups at emergency departments and to prevent people falling into such ill-health they require more advanced treatment.

‘Prevention revolution’

Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for health and social care, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: “We’ve reached a stage – and it’s been clear to me that we’ve been here for some time – that the pressures being faced by our NHS are not just simply about seasonality.

“We’re at the end of the summer, waiting lists are as long as ever – with many important metrics getting worse – and this isn’t just about clearing the backlog from ‘winter pressure’. In fact, the problems being faced by our NHS pre-date the pandemic.

“Clearly, we need to see action taken now to increase capacity and to improve patient flow, but the Labour government has to ensure that things are sustainable for the long term. That has to include a dramatic change in attitudes – and Government funding – towards preventative health measures. We need a prevention revolution to help release the pressure on our NHS.”

358,000 consultations

Responding to the latest NHS Wales performance data, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We continue to see improvements and a high number of people receiving treatment, with over 358,000 consultations taking place in the latest month. 

“The number of pathways waiting more than two years decreased for the fourth consecutive month, falling by 14% since the peak in March. July also saw just over 87,000 patient pathways closed, a significant increase from the early stages of the pandemic and 10% higher than for the same month in 2021.

“Performance against targets for diagnostic and therapies services continues to improve despite a general increase in demand for both services. Within diagnostics the number of patient pathways waiting longer than eight weeks went down and for therapies the number waiting longer than fourteen weeks also decreased to just over 12,500.

“Emergency care staff and services remain under pressure and performance is not where we, health boards nor the public want it to be. However, it is encouraging to see a 16% reduction in emergency admissions to hospitals in Wales when compared to August 2021.

“Our investment into Same Day Emergency Care services is helping to support this reduction and improve outcomes for patients. We also saw performance marginally improve against the four hour target, and the average (median) time spent in emergency departments shortened in August.

“We also saw improvement in average (median) amber call response times which were almost 23 minutes quicker than in July.  Amber calls include responding to heart attacks and strokes. We continue to prioritise improving discharge planning and an increase in community capacity ahead of the winter period.”

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