Support our Nation today - please donate here

NHS Wales reports fall in hospital waiting times

18 Jan 2024 4 minute read
Photo RDNE Stock project via Pexels

Hospital waiting times in Wales have dropped following a record rise over the previous 8 months, NHS figures have shown.

Ambulance response times have also improved compared to last year and there has been a reduction in ambulance patient handover delays.

Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan said the NHS in Wales had coped “relatively well under difficult circumstances” this winter.

NHS 111 answered more calls than ever this winter and the average number of daily red calls made in December was the second highest on record.

However, in December 80% of red calls received a response within fifteen minutes and the average response time to amber calls was 1 hour and 45 minutes faster than in December 2022.

Hours lost to handover delays at hospitals were also down 29% compared to last year.

Pathways of Care Delays fell from 1,567 in November to 1,361 in December – this is down from 1,750 in April.

The number of patients waiting over two years for treatment also fell and November saw a fall in the overall number of pathways on the waiting list.

The numbers waiting for diagnostic procedures have also reduced in November.

9,635 patients waited more than 12 hours in an A&E department despite the Welsh Government’s target that no one should have to wait that long.


Ms Morgan said: “Thanks to the hard work of our dedicated staff the NHS in Wales has coped relatively well under difficult circumstances so far this winter. I’m also encouraged to see the steps we have taken this winter, and over the last year, are helping to stabilise or improve performance.

“I am delighted that for the first time in a number of months the overall number of people on waiting lists has come down, but the challenging winter we have been through means that this may be difficult to sustain over the coming months.

“Our provision of new detailed data is helping health boards identify the areas in which they need to target resources to help more people leave hospital when they are ready to do so.

“I would also like to thank the public for using the new services we have funded to reduce pressure on GPs and emergency departments.”

Ms Morgan added that the number of people in Wales told they do not have cancer was the second highest figure on record.

However, the new figures show that cancer waiting times have worsened in Wales with 53% of new patients starting treatment within 62 days of cancer being first suspected.


Russell George MS, Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister said: “It is atrocious that two key services provided by our Welsh NHS, cancer and ambulance waits, are worsening yet again in Labour-run Wales.

“You have less than a 50/50 chance of an ambulance arriving within the target time in Labour-run Wales and barely a 50/50 chance of receiving cancer treatment on time.

“The Welsh Conservatives would enact a substantial workforce plan with a tuition fee refund for healthcare workers at its heart, in order to end Labour’s staffing crisis in our Welsh NHS.”

Cancer Research UK said the new cancer patient figures were below the target – which aims for 75% of patients to start treatment within 62 days of first suspecting cancer.

This target has never been met by the Welsh Government.

There was variation across Wales with some Health Boards seeing just 40.5% of patients starting treatment within 62 days of cancer first being suspected.

Other Health Boards saw 58.8% of patients within this time frame and no Health Board has met the 75% target since July 2020.

In November 2023, the NHS diagnostic and therapy service waiting times show that around 91,900 people were waiting for one of eight key diagnostic tests in Wales.

Of these, 40.4% have been waiting more than eight weeks.

Endoscopy waiting lists had 64.5% (around 15,300) of people waiting more than eight weeks, while radiology waiting lists had 32.0% (around 21,800) waiting more than eight weeks.


Cancer Research UK’s public affairs manager in Wales, Simon Scheeres, said: “Waiting to start cancer treatment is an incredibly worrying time for patients and their families. Long days and sleepless nights add to the anxiety of suspecting you have a disease that could progress while left untreated.

“NHS staff are working incredibly hard but years of chronic workforce shortages and a lack of specialist facilities means the system can’t cope.

“The Cancer Improvement Plan for Wales recognises these challenges, and outlines actions to address them. It is vital that the Welsh Government ensures that these actions are well resourced and implemented at pace.”

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.