Call for plan as 600,000 Welsh patients ‘in purgatory’ waiting for NHS treatment
Opposition parties have called on the Welsh Government to act after it was revealed that almost one in five people are waiting for NHS treatment in Wales.
According to the Welsh Conservatives, 600,000 people are in “patient purgatory” in Wales and the Health Minister Eluned Morgan should urgently come up with a plan to clear the backlog.
Plaid Cymru pointed out that one in four patients do not start cancer treatment within the target 62 days, and that a return to the pre-pandemic normal “when waiting lists were already too high” was “not good enough”.
The figures also showed that the last month was the 11th in a row where the target for 65% of ambulances getting to red calls in eight minutes has not been reached.
NHS Wales statistics for June 2021 have also revealed:
- The Welsh Government’s flagship new hospital, The Grange in Cwmbran, was currently the second worst in Wales for A&E delays;
- Those over 85 years of age are waiting nearly six hours to be seen on average; and
- One-in-four patients were waiting over a year for treatment, compared to 1-in-16 for England.
Shadow Health Minister, Conservative Russell George MS, said the numbers were “extremely concerning and will only get worse without a plan. Without treatment, people simply cannot go about their daily lives”.
“Keeping patients from often life-changing treatment like this when they have already had to live in some form of lockdown or another for over a year is already unacceptable, but not explaining how to address it is negligent,” he said.
Plaid Cymru’s Health spokesperson Rhun ap Iorwerth said that it had been pointed out how much waiting lists have grown during the pandemic, but the numbers were already too high before the pandemic.
“Simply returning to ‘pre-pandemic normal’ is not good enough,” he said.
“To turn things around, the Labour Welsh Government must introduce a concrete, ambitious recovery plan, that puts NHS Wales in a better position than we were at the start of the pandemic. This must include a workforce strategy to attract and retain health and care workers.
“As a matter of urgency, the plan must prioritise early cancer diagnosis, bringing the undiagnosed into the system and providing effective care for those patients in later stages of cancer who will need more complex treatments.”
The Conservatives pointed to the fact that the proportion of patients waiting over a year for treatment in Wales was four times larger than in England, while the average waiting time for treatment in Wales, at 23.4 weeks, was more than twice the wait in across the border where it is 10.8 weeks.
“The people of Wales deserve quality healthcare but if they look at our British cousins they will feel short-changed by a Welsh Government that has long underperformed and mismanaged the NHS,” Russell George said.
“It’s high-time the Minister took on board our calls for expanding the use of rapid diagnostic centres and exploring the introduction of specialist hubs to tackle routine surgery as soon as possible.”