"A national disgrace": Shadow Health Minister verdict on latest treatment waiting time figures

Report shows further worsening across many criteria

Angela Burns AM, the Shadow Minister for Health, has condemned the Welsh Labour Government over the dire figures for treatment waiting times released today (November 21), branding them “… a national disgrace”.

The statistics refer to cancer treatment, admissions to an A&E unit, and Referral to Treatment waiting times.

Again, the cancer treatment target of 95 percent has not been met, with just 73.9 percent of patients being seen within the target 62 days, a decrease – under the new Single Cancer Pathway – of 1.6 percentage points. In all, four out of the six local health boards saw a drop in patients seen within the target time between August and September.

Troubled Betsi Cadwaladr UHB’s rate dropped by nearly three percentage points between July and September from 79.6 percent to 76.7 percent.

However, most damning is a drop of a 17.5 percentage points between June and September from 84.7 percent to just 67.2 percent at Hywel Dda University Health Board.

Ms Burns said:

“These figures show a Welsh Labour Government unable to control NHS Wales, and a Welsh Labour Health Minister completely unable to manage his brief. They show a Welsh NHS in crisis and are a national disgrace.

“I join my fellow Welsh Conservative AM and Leader of the Opposition Paul Davies in urging the Health Minister to consider his position for the good of Wales, and the good of everyone living here, because people may – quite literally – be dying to be treated.”

During First Minister’s Questions on Tuesday, Mr Davies asked the Health Minister if he was proud over his record as Health Minister. He replied that he was.

Other damaging figures released today include those for Referral to Treatment (RTT), again with a target of 95 percent waiting to start treatment within 26 weeks. It, similarly, has not been met.

September 2019 RTT times show that 84.8 percent of patients were waiting up to 26 weeks to start treatment, a drop of nearly one percentage point from August (85.7).

Betsi Cadwaladr, again, is the worst performing board, with 79.1 percent of patients waiting up to 26 weeks and nearly one-in-10 (9.6 percent) waiting to start treatment after 36 weeks. This is nearly double the next worst health board, Swansea Bay at 5.3 percent.

In October, A & E departments in Welsh hospitals equalled the record poorest figures in September at 75.3 percent of patients were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours in urgent care departments. The target is 95 percent.

Ambulance response times also showed a deterioration to the most serious 999 calls over the course of the year.

In October 2018, an emergency vehicle arrived within eight minutes to 74.7 percent of "red" calls, i.e. those where a life could be immediately at risk, yet last month that figure had dropped to 66.3 percent.

Concluding, Ms Burns said:

“Time after time, this failing Welsh Labour Government says it is ‘learning’ or entering a period of ‘reflection’.

“Well, the time for learning and reflection passed a long time ago. When will it actually do something about NHS Wales?”