Wales needs to have ‘national conversation’ about future of the NHS after ‘two decades of getting worse’ say Tories
Wales needs to have a “national conversation” about the future of the NHS after two decades of “getting perpetually worse” the Welsh Conservatives’ health spokesperson has said.
His comments came as the numbers on waiting lists for non-urgent hospital treatment in Wales hit record levels for the 18th successive month.
One in five people in Wales – 679,626 individuals – were on a NHS waiting lists in October, nearly 11,000 more than the previous month and up by 50% since the start of the Covid pandemic.
Conservative Senedd Member Russell George said that the Covid pandemic was a factor but that the Welsh NHS had been slowly deteriorating for a long time before then.
“It is clear that Labour has lost its grip on the NHS,” he said. “But we all must also have a serious national conversation on how we learn to live with this virus and the increasing demands we, as a nation, put on our national health service.
“Although coronavirus and the pent-up demand from previous lockdowns is obviously a huge factor in today’s damning statistics, there has to come a point when things get better.
“However, Labour’s record over two decades is one where things have gotten perpetually worse: doubling the waiting list in the year before Covid struck, experiencing its worst-ever A&E waits the year before the pandemic, and removing conditions like strokes from the red-call ambulance criteria.”
The Welsh Government said that the continued pandemic meant that waiting times would continue to rise.
“Our immediate focus is now on ensuring we deal with this next difficult phase of the pandemic and that patients can receive urgent care when they need it,” they said.
“It is encouraging to see improvement in the ambulance performance for November. But they and emergency departments remain under pressure.”
The NHS Confederation in Wales, which represents health boards, said the whole of the health and care system was “working tirelessly to find both short and long-term solutions” to the challenges faced.
“The performance in some areas, for example in urgent and emergency care, is improving month-on-month but there are still enormous challenges ahead,” said director Darren Hughes.
The number of people waiting over two years increased by 8,253 in a single month, a 28.6% jump to 35,483. Around 2,000 extra people are now also waiting over a year compared to September.
Additional figures showed a third (33.34%) of patients had to wait over the four hour target to be seen in A&E last month, the third-worst month for the Welsh NHS on record.
Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board, which covers North Wales, was the worst performing in the nation against the four-hour A&E target, seeing only 62% in four hours. Wrexham Maelor Hospital saw fewer than half its patients (42.2%) in four hours, making it the worst performing in Wales.
When it came to ambulance performance in November, only 53% of responses to immediately life-threatening calls arrived within eight minutes. The target of 65% of red-calls reaching their patient within eight minutes has not been reached in 16 months.
The slowest ambulances were in the Powys health board area with only 41.8% arriving within the eight-minute target, but three other health boards posted a figure under 50%.
Three-in-four (74.2%) amber call patients – which include strokes – took over 30 minutes to be reached. This was most acute in Swansea Bay with only 16.8% of calls arriving within half an hour.
Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said: “Moving forward, we need to relieve pressures on A&E in three steps: encouraging use of other services like minor injury units and community pharmacists, rolling out regional surgical hubs to deal with the treatment backlog, and making it far easier to access GP services.”
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Just like the NHS of England, Scotland and N Ireland, ours has struggled, after over a decade of Tory cuts and austerity, and willful neglect from Westminster. All figures for the last decade show less and less spending by Westminster year on year in real terms, at least our Gov has resisted the creeping privatisation that is taking place in England. An independent Wales, would allow us, just like Westminster can right now, to borrow money to invest, not only in the current system, but also in preventative measures. These are the talks we should be having, how can we… Read more »
Its worse because of your parties under funding you moron
Nothing to do with the virus the English government allowed on our doorstep through their lack of action on the borders eh?
Yes we need a conversation with Tories excluded.
Russell is quite right and the conversation needs to be positive , inclusive and honest over why we need one ☝️.
I can well remember much of the causes well – and he needs to honest on who it was who kicked elected and accountable folk off the local health boards prior to populating them with the wealthy landed minor Tory Squires & party faithful – as happened in many areas of Wales..
At least we were appointed rather than anointed!
Ah, a call for a national conversation when it may suit them. We need much more than a conversation about NHS, we need a serious conversation about the entire future of Wales and the Welsh. Unfortunately that is a dialogue that is beyond their wit.
He’s going to really flip his lid when he hears about this place called England and just how well they too are coping…
Just as an aside, do these Tories ever say anything positive about Wales? Am being (perhaps a first, granted) serious here…
OMG! these tories, don’t they just make you want to give them a slap!
tories definitely on the back foot – panicking a bit I’d say.
Kick all English party’s out of wales 🏴 it’s time for a new wales 🏴
The biggest problem with the NHS is just to Manny chef’s and not enough indians and they’re spend a lot of time protecting and building they’re little empire