More than 683,000 people are waiting to start NHS treatment across Wales
More than 683,000 people across Wales are waiting to start treatment as demand on the NHS continues to grow.
Figures released today show an increase of 0.2 per cent on November, which is the slowest rate of increase in several months.
However 683,331 people remain on a waiting list for treatment.
Of those 365,684 have been waiting up to 26 weeks, 73,316 are waiting between 26 to 36 weeks and 244,331 have waited mire than 36 weeks to start treatment.
As of December 2021 there were 146,164 people on the waiting list in North Wales, 54,281 of which were waiting for than 36 weeks.
Other data released today shows that just under 50 per cent of those who attended Wrexham’s emergency department last month were seen under the four hour target time.
4,325 people visited the A&E at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital throughout January 2022, which is similar to the levels seen in December 2021.
Although this is less than the Welsh Government target time of seeing 95 per cent of emergency department attendees within four hours, it is an improvement on 43.4 per cent recorded in December.
However it was once again the worst performing in Wales.
Overall 65.8 per cent of attendees were seen within eight hours and 77 per cent within 12 hours.
Almost 37,000 emergency calls were made to the ambulance service. This is an average of 1,191 calls per day, a decrease on the previous month and 81 (5.6%) fewer calls on an average per day than the same month last year.
January 2022 was the eighth month in a row where, on average, there were more than 100 immediately life-threatening calls made each day.
Calls to the ambulance service are categorised as red, amber or green depending on the urgency of the call. In January 2022, the proportion of all calls that were immediately life-threatening (red calls) was 9.2%, down from 9.9% in December 2021.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Thanks to the heroic efforts of our NHS staff we only saw the waiting lists increase by 0.2% in December, the lowest increase since the start of the pandemic, despite the fact that so many staff were diverted to the super-fast roll out of the booster programme during that month.
“Demanding winter pressures, the Omicron wave and the need to support the vaccination programme continued to place considerable strain on the NHS in December 2021.
“These challenges led to the postponement of a number of appointments and planned treatments across Wales and some people were waiting longer for treatment than we would like.
“We want to thank our healthcare workforce for delivering vast amounts of booster vaccinations while continuing to provide high-quality care to hundreds of thousands of patients each month.
“Despite these ongoing pressures, the data shows the number of patient pathways waiting for therapies fell slightly in the last month after increasing every month in 2021.
“We have also seen some improvement in performance against the 62-day cancer target which increased compared to the previous month to 58.6 per cent of pathways starting their first definitive treatment in the month within the target time.
“While the number of patient pathways waiting for treatment increased again in December 2021, it was at the slowest rate since the start of the pandemic.
“Our ambulance data shows that January 2022 saw a decrease in the total number of calls made to the ambulance service on the previous month however there remains high numbers of life-threatening calls with more than 100 recorded a day.
“Despite this, performance against the eight minute ambulance response target increased by 1.4 percentage points on the previous month.”
Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for health and care, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: “The evidence tells us that there is less pressure on our NHS from coronavirus, and yet Welsh Government has been too slow to react to this good news. When faced with such a time-sensitive task as getting the NHS back on track, there is no time to waste.
“Undoubtably the pandemic has had a massive impact on the ability of our NHS to diagnose and treat patients – the waiting times now are beyond shocking. But they weren’t good enough before the pandemic.
“Welsh Government should be ready with a recovery plan now, just as they should have had a plan in place before the pandemic. April is too long to wait for such an important matter.”
Commenting, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said: “Every month, these figures only go to show how much work there is to be done to get our national health service into a fit state that works for patients and staff.
“It is undeniable that emergency and elective care waits have reached these heights because of the pandemic – showing there were plenty of harmful health consequences to restricting healthcare services – but we cannot just go back to what it was like before Covid either.
“The treatment waiting list was already at a record high two years ago, the longest-ever pre-Covid A&E waits were in 2019, NHS beds have been cut year-on-year by a third of what they were when Labour entered power, and there are still thousands of staff vacancies to fill.”
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