NHS Wales’ Waiting Lists For Hospital Treatments Reach Second Highest Level Ever Recorded

London (Parliament Politic Magazine) –The most recent statistics indicate that waiting lists for hospital treatment in Wales have reached their second highest point ever recorded. In the month of June, there were a total of 754,271 patient pathways on the waiting list, marking the fourth consecutive month of increase.

This number reflects a rise of over 5,800 compared to the previous month, and it falls just around 400 short of the peak observed in September of the previous year. The health minister has expressed some optimism, noting the “encouraging” signs of progress in addressing some of the longest waiting times.

Concerning Trends In Ambulance Response Times

However, the data also highlights concerning trends in ambulance response times and waits in the Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments. Medical professionals in the emergency field have raised alarms, deeming the situation “deeply worrying” for this time of the year.

Furthermore, the figures reveal that only approximately half of individuals suspected of having cancer initiated treatment within the targeted timeframe. Among the statistics, there were 132,616 instances of waits for hospital treatment extending beyond a year, constituting about 17.6% of the entire list.

For a meaningful comparison with England, we need to refine the Welsh statistics to encompass solely consultant-led specialisms. Upon conducting this comparative analysis, we observe that 19.5% of individuals on the waiting list in Wales experienced a wait exceeding one year. In contrast, the corresponding figure for England stands at 5.1%.

In Wales Patients Are Enduring Waits 

Furthermore, in Wales, 4.2% of patients are enduring waits surpassing two years. In sharp contrast, this statistic is considerably lower in England, accounting for a mere 0.004% or a total of 314 patients.

Expanding our comparison to a region of England that shares similar healthcare and economic attributes with Wales—specifically, the north-east and Cumbria—we find that the nine health boards within this area are surpassing both Wales and England in terms of managing the most prolonged waiting periods.

In response to these observations, Health Minister Eluned Morgan remarked that the NHS is exerting every effort within the constraints it faces. She emphasized, “We have observed a consistent decline in the number of individuals experiencing the lengthiest waiting times month after month, indicating improvements. Nevertheless, there is a continuous influx of individuals being added to these waiting lists on a weekly basis.”

What Do the Additional Statistics Reveal?

Ambulance response times displayed a slight decline compared to the previous month, as 52.6% of critical “red” calls met the eight-minute target window. The average response time for these red calls was recorded at seven minutes and 38 seconds, which is 22 seconds longer than the previous month’s average.

However, positive progress is evident in terms of handover delays—the time ambulances spent outside hospitals awaiting patient transfers. The cumulative time spent outside A&E units beyond the 15-minute target threshold totaled 13,868 hours. Remarkably, this represents the lowest figure in nearly two years.

Addressing the issue of A&E, 70.7% of individuals received attention within four hours. This marks a decrease from the previous month’s proportion. Additionally, 9,189 individuals experienced wait times exceeding 12 hours, which contrasts with the aim of eliminating such extended waits.

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Winter Planning Needed To Brace Colder Months In The UK

With September approaching, Dr. Pillai emphasized the necessity of robust winter planning to brace for the colder months. He underscored the importance of discharging patients who are fit to leave the hospital, in order to alleviate bed congestion and mitigate delays in A&E departments.

In a related development, data released on Thursday indicated that around 1,500 patients, primarily elderly individuals, occupied hospital beds in Wales. The awaiting care packages and availability in residential homes due to delayed care transfers has caused a lot of health issues for the locals. 

Concerning outpatient care, there exists a target to ensure that no individual waits beyond a year for their initial appointment. Despite this, approximately 49,900 people are still grappling with such extended waits. Encouragingly, these numbers have decreased for ten consecutive months, with a decline of 4.7% compared to the prior month.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.