Posted: Tue 26th Apr 2022

Welsh Government to publish plans on tackling long hospital waiting times

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Apr 26th, 2022

A plan to cut NHS waiting times and “prioritise the most urgent cases” will be unveiled by the Welsh Government today.

It comes as the health service continues to face ongoing pressure as it deals with coronavirus pressures, a growing backlog and demand from the public seeking healthcare.

Figures released last week revealed that the number of people accessing emergency departments in Wales had “sharply increased” in March.

The lowest performance on record against the four and 12 hour waiting targets were also recorded last month.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board continued to see the worst waiting times in Wales.

In Wrexham just over 46 per cent of the 4,819 attendees seen within a four hour period.

This afternoon Health Minister Eluned Morgan will unveil the Welsh Government’s plan to cut waiting times over the next four years.

It includes an extra £60m – £15m a year – for health boards. The Welsh Government has now committed more than £1bn this Senedd term to help the NHS recover from the pandemic.

The Health Minister said the plan aims to ensure no one will be waiting more than a year for treatment in most specialties by Spring 2025.

A series of targets for health boards will be set out in the plan, including waiting times and waiting lists for planned care – routine referrals and non-emergency care – have been hugely affected by the pandemic across the UK.

At the start of the pandemic, the majority of appointments and treatments were postponed to enable the NHS to focus on caring for the large number of people with Covid-19. Subsequent waves of coronavirus infections have also affected activity levels in the NHS.

Infection control measures in the NHS, especially in hospitals, have changed the way services are delivered and have reduced the number of planned appointments and surgeries which can be performed.

The plan builds on these changes and sets the goal of 35% of all new appointments and 50% of follow-up appointments being delivered virtually in future. This will help to free up clinicians’ time so they can see and treat more patients.

Another element of the plan is delivering more diagnostic tests outside hospitals and closer to people’s homes in primary and community care settings.

Plans for two community diagnostic centres will be developed this year, with more to follow by the end of this Senedd term.

An online website will be created where patients can get the information and support to manage their own conditions, helping people to manage their own health and reducing the number who need to be readmitted to hospital for treatment.

Ms Morgan said: “We need a determined effort to ensure people waiting for appointments and treatment are seen as quickly as possible and in order of clinical priority.

“We are committing £1bn this Senedd term to help the NHS recover from the pandemic and to treat people as quickly as possible.

“Reducing waiting times will require new solutions, more equipment, new facilities and more staff to help diagnose people quickly as part of an effective and efficient planned care service.

“This plan sets out how we will transform planned care so the most urgent cases are prioritised.

“Unfortunately waiting times and waiting lists have grown during the pandemic and will take a long time and a lot of hard work to do but we are committed to working with our fantastic NHS to ensure no one waits longer than a year for treatment in most specialities by spring 2025.

“Together with reducing waiting times, we also want to help people understand and manage their conditions and to feel supported while they are waiting for treatment.

“This is a big task – but it is our focus for the rest of this term.”

Welsh Conservative and Shadow Minister for Health, Russell George MS said:

 “Twenty-three years of Labour mismanagement has seen the NHS breaking all the wrong records in Wales. Only last week we saw the worst A&E waits and longest treatment list in NHS Wales history. Much more needs to be done.

“Labour’s mismanagement of our NHS predates the COVID-19 with waiting times doubling in the year before the pandemic.  

“For years, Welsh Conservatives have been calling on the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay to tackle the crisis in our NHS. We need to be assured that this plan is more than a just sticking plaster to cover deep rooted issues.

“We must also be assured that this extra funding will go towards addressing long standing gaps in the NHS workforce as this can’t be just about equipment, it’s about the people.

“This is a matter of life and death for people in Wales. It’s about time Labour ministers started treating it as such.”

  • The plan will be released by the Welsh Government at midday. Health Minister Eluned Morgan will also hold a press conference this afternoon.

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