Posted: Thu 22nd Jun 2023

Welsh Government misses target to cut treatment waiting times as list continues to grow for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jun 22nd, 2023

The Welsh government has failed to meet its own target of cutting treatment waiting times for another month

Figures released today show that the number of people waiting to start treatment increased by 6,000 patients in April after falling for five consecutive months.

During April there were over 743,300 open patient pathways – equating to 582,000 individual patients on treatment waiting lists in Wales.

A person can be on more than one waiting list at a time, which is why there is a difference between open pathways and individuals patients.

Of those around  31,500 pathways were waiting more than two years to start treatment.

The Welsh government failed to hit its target for another month of eliminating two year waits in most specialties by March 2023.

The target was not met in March and in April there were still a further 21 specialties with pathways waiting more than two years accounting for 4,500 pathways.

The number of people attending emergency departments across Wales in May also reached the second highest on record.

Figures also released by the Welsh government show that throughout the month there was an average of 3,199 daily attendances to emergency departments.

This is an increase on the previous month and also the second highest on record.

Performance increased slightly against the four hour target and decreased slightly against the twelve hour target.

Locally 4,959 attended the Wrexham Maelor emergency department during May, with 54.8 per cent of patients seen within the four hour waiting time.

This was a slight improvement on April’s figures.

Against the eight hour target 70.3 per cent were seen while 80.9 per cent were seen within 12 hours.

Throughout May there was a slight increase in the number of category red/immediately life-threatening calls to receive a response within eight minutes.

In May, over 35,700 emergency calls were made to the ambulance service. This was an average of 1,152 calls per day, an increase of 41 (3.7 per cent) calls on average per day compared with the previous month, but 55 (4.5 per cent) fewer per day than the same month last year.

Responding to today’s figures NHS Wales Chief Executive Judith Paget said it was “disappointing to see the overall waiting list increase for the second month in a row.”

She said: “Our NHS continues to see historically high levels of demand, but our dedicated, hard-working staff continue to provide high quality care every day.

“I am pleased to see continued improvement in timeliness of ambulance response – the best in a year – and further improvement in the performance of emergency departments despite continued pressure.

“While I recognise much more needs to be done it’s encouraging to see improvements starting to come through a year after the launch of our Six Goals for Urgent and Emergency Care Programme.

“It’s disappointing to see the overall waiting list increase for the second month in a row, after falling for five consecutive months. But two-year waits decreased for the thirteenth consecutive month and the Health Minister has asked health boards to redouble efforts to tackle the longest waits.

“This must be seen in the context of continued high demand, with a significant increase in referrals since the COVID-19 pandemic. And we always expect less planned care activity during the Easter holidays.”

However Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister, Russell George MS said treatment waiting lists had “stagnated.”

He said: “In the last month, despite repeated promises by the Labour Health Minister that inhuman 2-year waits for treatment would be eliminated by March, these unacceptable waiting times are still a unique phenomenon in our Welsh NHS.

“The numbers have stagnated, with the lowest monthly reduction in 2-year waits for a year. I am disappointed to see so little progress being made to bring relief to patients being left in limbo for years.

“In fact, overall numbers for patients waiting for treatment are up over 10,000, meaning nearly 1-in-4 are still on a waiting list here in Wales.

“It can’t be right that in England that 2-year waits have been virtually eliminated and that there are nearly three times as many people waiting two years in Wales than there are people waiting 18 months in England, despite England having 18 times our population.

“The Labour-run Welsh NHS is in dire straits, any progress the Labour Health Minister could have claimed has come to a screeching halt.”

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