NHS waiting times hit new low in Wales
“All the wrong records keep getting broken”, according to the Senedd Conservatives as NHS Wales saw its worst ever A&E waiting times, the longest NHS waiting list on record, and the second slowest response times from ambulances.
Data for August (released today) shows only 68.7% of the 61,281 patients who attended NHS emergency departments in Wales spent less than four hours in the department from arrival until admission, transfer or discharge. The target is 95% – never met in its 12-year existence.
Statistics also revealed:
- Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board (BCHB), which covers North Wales, was the worst performing in Wales with only 64.9% seen within 4 hours;
- The Welsh Government’s flagship hospital, The Grange in Cwmbran, continues to have the worst waiting times for a single hospital, as only 40.7% of patients seen within 4 hours, down 3.1% since July;
- Across Wales, 7,982 patients waited over 12 hours for treatment in August, up by nearly 900 compared to July, with over a third in North Wales (2752); and
- Those 85+ spent an average of 6 hours and 33 minutes in A&E, up 22 minutes since July.
Additional figures for July showed the highest ever number of patients waiting for treatment with 643,108 on patient pathways. Median waiting times for that same month in Wales are double that of England (21.4 weeks compared to 10.9), having improved by just 0.2 weeks in a month.
Still, 1-in-4 patients are waiting over a year for treatment, compared to only 1-in-19 in England. Meanwhile, England has 143,000 fewer patients waiting over a year, Wales’ has increased by 1,238.
In August 2021, 57.6% of emergency responses to immediately life-threatening (red) calls arrived within eight minutes. This is 6% lower than in August 2020 and 11% lower than in August 2019. It’s the second worst response times to the red calls since new targets were introduced in 2015.
The worst performing Health Board was Powys with 47.5% arriving within the eight-minute target, but two other health boards posted less than a 50% – BCHB and Dyfed’s Hywel Dda Health Board.
78.1% of amber calls – which include strokes – took over 30 mins to respond. This was most acute in Swansea Bay Health Board with 16.3% within 30 mins. The Central Valleys’ Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board only saw 18.5% of amber calls arrive within 30 mins.
The news comes the day after Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS led a Welsh Conservative debate in the Senedd on the crisis in the ambulance service, where the Labour Government rejected declaring an “emergency in the ambulance service”.
Cancer treatment times also continued to be missed and have worsened with 61.8% being treated within 62 days, down from 67.3% in June.
Commenting on today’s figures, Mr George – MS for Montgomeryshire – said:
“We are seeing both emergency and elective treatment in the NHS reaching its limit right now. This is leading to unacceptable waits for patients and intolerable burnout for hard-working staff.
“However, this is not the new normal. Not long before the pandemic, the Labour-run NHS was regularly breaking all the wrong records. Among the Covid-related issues affecting public services, there are deep-rooted problems that have not been tackled in the devolution era.
“A little progress has been made with the British Army recently recruited to help in the NHS, but we need so much more than that. To solve a problem, ministers must accept that there is one.
“That’s why we were disappointed to see Labour reject an ambulance emergency yesterday, are concerned that they haven’t yet released a winter plan for the NHS and take on our outlined proposals, and fearful that these long waiting times can still get worse.”
MS’ Private Members Bill selected for debate in the Senedd