Big jump in hospital waiting lists in Wales

Surgery Opposition parties have called the figures a "crisis" and a "national disgrace"

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Figures show another significant rise in the number of patients waiting more than nine months for hospital care.

More than 13,000 in Wales had been waiting over 36 weeks in August, a rise of more than 2,000 in one month.

Welsh Conservatives say First Minister Carwyn Jones should intervene personally in "an escalating crisis".

Health Minister Mark Drakeford said the NHS in Wales had the same challenge as England but "where we differ is the way we respond and deal with these issues".

The Welsh government has previously blamed the severe winter weather for pushing up the 36-week waiting time.

Its own target is for no-one to wait that long.

The Welsh Conservatives said they recognised the Welsh government had announced extra cash for the NHS in its draft budget announcement this week but waiting times remained "unacceptably long".

Analysis

According to the Welsh government nobody should be waiting over 36 weeks for hospital treatment after being referred by their GPs

But since March there's been a steep rise in numbers of patients that have waited longer.

In August 13,147 patients across Wales had waited longer than nine months, which is 3.1% of all patients waiting

And the statistics show the problems are most acute in three health board areas.

Cardiff and Vale had 4.8% of patients waiting longer than 36 weeks, Cwm Taf 4.7% and Betsi Cadwaladr 4.3%.

But don't forget there's another target - 95% of patients should be treated within 26 weeks.

Only 88% of patients across Wales had been treated within that time.

Opposition parties argue that along with missed targets on cancer treatment times, A&E waits, and ambulance response times, it all suggests the Welsh government's is losing its grip on NHS performance,

The result, they argue, is patients having to suffer for longer.

Shadow health minister Darren Millar has written to Mr Jones saying the situation was "a crisis that needs immediate priority".

He said: "I hope you will agree that patients across Wales - particularly the elderly and vulnerable - should not be faced with such long waits."

He added that he sought assurances the NHS delays would dealt with by Mr Jones personally.

Meanwhile, Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said the figures were a "national disgrace".

"Why must patients in Wales have to put up with such an inferior service when compared to the rest of the UK?" she said.

"Years of Welsh Labour incompetence has led to thousands of people having to wait an awful long time until the start of their treatment.

"No one should have to wait this long, but it's particularly dreadful to think of the large amount of elderly people that are being forced to wait months on end."

On Tuesday, it was announced that the Welsh NHS would be given £570m of extra funding over three years during the Welsh government's draft budget.

Finance Minister Jane Hutt said the extra money would help the NHS in Wales to avoid a scandal such as the one in Stafford Hospital, where hundreds of patients died as a result of neglect and abuse.

Health Minster Mark Drakeford said: "We know there are significant challenges in the NHS. These are exactly the same challenges being faced by the NHS in England.

"Where we differ is the way we respond to and deal with these issues.

"As a result of our action, 92% of people in Wales are satisfied with the care they receive from the NHS."

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