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Senedd debate focuses on NHS delays

Darren Millar AM

Welsh Conservatives will tomorrow lead a National Assembly debate on NHS waiting times.

As more people than ever await treatment within Wales’ Labour-run health service, Assembly Members will discuss the problems that continue to plague patients and their families.

One in seven people in Wales is stuck on an NHS waiting list.

At the end of April, a total of 424,009 were waiting for their start of their treatment. That figure stood at just 220,000 when Carwyn Jones took up his role as Labour First Minister.

More than 12,700 patients had been waiting over nine months for their first hospital appointment. That’s a jump of almost 2,000 on the previous month, despite Welsh Government promises of improvement.

No-one is expected to wait over 36 weeks fortreatment. In England, 89.9% of patients began treatment within 18 weeks.

The number of people waiting more than eight weeks for ‘specified diagnostic services’ also rose over the month from 22,897 to 23,864. In England, over the same period, only 2.2% of patients waited more than six weeks for diagnostic tests.

Labour’s ambulance response time target has been missed in 21 of the past 22 months, despite being the lowest target in the UK. In April 2014, fewer than 57% of ambulances arrived on the scene of an immediately life-threatening callout within eight minutes.

A recent Nuffield Trust report (April 2014) concluded that Labour’s NHS budget cuts could be to blame for Wales’ rising waiting times.

Darren Millar AM, Shadow Minister for Health, said, “After 15 years of successive Labour Governments, more patients are waiting longer than ever for treatment.

“Nearly one in seven of the Welsh population is stuck on an NHS waiting list and too many of them are waiting far longer than they would in other parts of the UK.

“Numerous key NHS performance targets have been routinely missed for years, yet Labour’s response is not to invest or focus resources, but to consider axing its targets altogether.

“Despite the hard work and dedication of clinical staff, the NHS is being strangled by Labour’s record-breaking budget cuts, which are biting hard and driving up waiting times.

“Last year, nearly half of all postponed procedures were due to non-clinical reasons such as a lack of beds, the numbers of which have been slashed by a fifth under Labour.

“Current waiting times are unacceptably long. Patients and NHS staff deserve a properly resourced NHS which is equipped to meet rising demand and expectations.

“Labour Ministers must reverse their record-breaking NHS budget cuts and end their dangerous centralisation agenda, which puts patients at risk and could make waiting time performance figures even worse.”

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