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NHS waiting lists in Wales highest on record

20 Jun 2024 4 minute read
Staff on a NHS hospital ward. PA Images, Peter Byrne

Emily Price

NHS waiting times in Wales are now the highest on record, according to the latest performance data.

The Welsh Government says the “disappointing” figures for April and May show there is a “long way to go” to reduce waits built up during the pandemic.

In April the number of overall patient pathways increased from just under 768,900 to just over 775,000 – the highest on record.

The government argued that the latest figures could have been affected by a “reduction in activity” during the Easter holiday period.

Plaid Cymru says Wales’ new First Minister, Vaughan Gething, had put waiting times “front and centre” of his leadership campaign – but had so failed to deliver.

Health Spokesperson Mabon ap Gwynfor said: “Labour’s complete mismanagement if the NHS in Wales has left us with waiting lists at the highest on record, targets for diagnosis and treatment are being consistently missed and people are getting stranded in A&E departments for hours on end.

“It’s no wonder that we have such astronomical waiting times when the government has failed to deal with problems in business the primary care and social care. Until the government gets to grip with these fundamental problems then waiting lists will continue to climb.”

‘Unprecedented’

The Welsh Government says “unprecedented levels of demand” had contributed to the long waits with more new referrals than ever before.

April saw the second highest average daily new referrals for any month on record.

In May, just over 36,600 emergency calls were made to the ambulance service.

This was an average of 1,182 calls per day, on average 87 more calls per day than the previous month, and 30 more per day than the same month last year.

The number of immediately life-threatening 999 calls in May was 25% higher than the previous year and demand is nearly two-and-a-half times higher than pre-pandemic levels.

More people received a response within eight minutes compared to May last year – but ambulance response times are still not meeting targets.

May saw the highest number of emergency attendances on record but performance against the four hour target remained stable.

Emergency admissions also fell by 2.3%, – the Welsh Government says this is a testament to the “success of new services” to help keep people out of hospital.

Cancer treatment

More people started their first cancer treatment in April than in March and more people were given the news they don’t have cancer than the previous month.

But despite treating more new and existing cancer patients in April, delivery against the cancer target fell.

The Welsh Government says it’s determined to improve consistency against this target for people who are referred with suspected cancer.

A spokesperson said: “We need to continue to provide more alternatives to emergency department care for people who do not need to go to hospital so we can safely support people in their local communities and prevent unnecessary admissions.

“We will continue to support our incredibly hard working NHS staff as they provide life-saving and life-changing care.

“We are very hopeful that junior doctors, consultants and SAS doctors will vote for the recommendations made by the BMA Wales Committees to accept the recent pay offers so that we can all focus our efforts on ensuring the best possible clinical outcomes for the people of Wales.”

Sobering

Director of the Welsh NHS Confederation Darren Hughes said: “There’s no doubt the latest figures make for sobering reading. NHS leaders are all too aware that this is not just a series of numbers on a page, but thousands of people’s lives being affected.

“The statistics also show sustained high levels of demand on the service, with NHS leaders telling us patients are more ill and therefore needing more treatment.

“We must acknowledge the relentless hard work of health and care staff and the care they do provide to thousands of people, day in, day out. NHS activity is at exceptionally high levels, it just cannot keep up with the record levels of demand coming in through the front door.

“The NHS cannot deliver effectively for all patients when things continue to run so hot. We need commitments from governments to longer term thinking, including focusing on prevention, shifting more care into the community, capital investment to make NHS estates more efficient and ringfenced investment so social care staff can have parity of pay. Without this, we cannot expect to see the meaningful change we all want to see.”


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Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
24 days ago

And if people thing the Welsh tories would be better think again but a change is needed myself give Plaid a chance to run Wales do not forget the Tory scum in London also cut the Welsh Budget Labour have had their feet under the Table to long in Wales

Adrian Bamford
Adrian Bamford
23 days ago
Reply to  Dai Ponty

Just like Labour, Plaid can’t tell the difference between a male and a female human: that could hamper them somewhat when it comes to healthcare, don’t you think?

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
23 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Bamford

This crisis facing Wales Is no Bloody joke to you it is with stupid comment

jimmy
jimmy
24 days ago

We can’t be far off runaway exponential growth in waiting lists and by extension real rationing. The greater the delay in starting treatment, the more severe the problem to be dealt with at eventual treatment start, we are often told….by those that hold the power to do something about it…..

hdavies15
hdavies15
24 days ago
Reply to  jimmy

Jimmy, we are already into rationing of healthcare. The “funnelling” starts when you telephone your local health clinic/centre and get told you are umpteen in the call queue. Then you get to the end of the queue to be told to buzz off and try again tomorrow or visit some bland website that might be OK if your nose is running or bleeding but not much use when you feel like your arse is going to fall off ! That’s what sends people to A&E where the waiting is several hours and some people become so ill they never recover… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
24 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

So you have been behind curtain too, much of worth in what you say…

jimmy
jimmy
23 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

I agree HD and it is somewhat disingenuous of the Welsh Govt. to continue blaming the Covid pandemic. If that were the only cause, then the growth in waiting lists would have levelled off some time ago, however, looking at the graphs the rise appears to be gaining momentum. Hence the risk of exponential growth and eventual collapse….just as the privateers have long planned for. The NHS offers the most lucrative rewards of all the public assets to plunder.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
24 days ago

Until Ms Morgan leaves the stage and is replaced, by who for god’s sake, face it the ‘Welsh Labour 11’ needs a transfer window, it is feet up and coast for the next two years and that is no help to Cymru…Election in Cymru ASAP…

Why vote
Why vote
23 days ago

Proof that welsh labour can’t organise a drink in a brewery. The last labour health minister has made a shambles of the NHS Wales and for all his failures in that job what did his mates do demote him to first minister, well that went well. And now Wales has to hold its head in shame.

Howie
Howie
23 days ago

If you looked at BBC Wales news online you would be oblivious to this, must have passed them by this month.
It’s not just wait for treatment or diagnostic test it is waits for results that are getting longer but not reported.
Only 10 weeks left for the result wait 20 weeks from scan, for a osteoporosis scan in early April, which was a 14 month wait from fracturing back.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
23 days ago
Reply to  Howie

As I understand it much of the delay in medical test results, including cancer tests, is because they are sent to Australia for analysis. We dont have the facilities. Gething brainchild?

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
23 days ago

The NHS in Wales is the worst performing in the UK. Senedd Labour party incompetence strikes again

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