The Welsh Government has confirmed figures which show the extent of difficulties caused by emergency pressures faced by hospitals last winter. The Deputy Chief Executive of NHS Wales, Kevin Flynn, told Assembly Members earlier that hospitals are still dealing with a backlog of postponed operations.
He told the Public Accounts committee that hospitals are on course to catch-up and are prepared for the coming winter. You can see his evidence here and the evidence of the Chief Executive David Sissling, but here are the figures:
2,600 operations postponed during the winter months of 2012/13
That equates to less than 1% of the 250,000 operations carried out every year
At the end of August 13,147 patients were waiting longer than 36 weeks for surgery
That's a rise of 2,038 compared to the end of July
Early figures show the number of patients waiting longer than 36 weeks fell in September to just over 12,000
The Deputy Chief Executive of NHS Wales told AMs that hospitals are still catching up on a backlog caused by last year's 'unprecedented' winter pressures. Kevin Flynn told the the Public Accounts Committee that 2,600 operations were cancelled last winter to cope with emergency admissions.
He described last winter as a 'once in fifty years' event caused by a combination of extreme bad weather and demographic changes. The Chief Executive, David Sissling, told the committee that plans for this coming winter are 'robust.'
The Chief Executive of the NHS in Wales says he's confident that health boards have 'robust' plans for coping with winter emergency pressures. David Sissling acknowledged that Welsh hospitals have only just caught up with operations cancelled as a result of last winter.
Mr Sissling told members of the Assembly's Public Accounts Committee that last winter was a 'once in fifty years' event because of unprecedented bad weather. He said planning for the coming cold weather has been 'very rigorous, very thorough' and assumes that 'it could be like the previous winter.'
He told AMs that 'plans are robust and road tested' and that the NHS in Wales 'can go into winter with confidence.'
The Chief Executive of the NHS in Wales has told Assembly Members that health chiefs now understand there will be no further budget bailouts in the future. David Sissling was being questioned by members of the Public Accounts Committee over concerns about the health service's finances.
Mr Sissling told the AMs that now that health boards are being allowed to draw up three year budgets, they are developing 'strong plans' which show 'rigour and discipline' when it comes to financial targets.
Boards have been criticised by auditors for a culture which assumes there will be extra money if they fail to meet those financial targets. Mr Sissling said that boards realise that when the plans are 'signed off, they are signed off.'
Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, says investment, "clear leadership and direction" is needed from the Welsh Government for the NHS here.
Speaking to our Health Reporter Rob Osborne, he reiterated his call that an inquiry is needed into standards of care, similar to that carried out by Sir Bruce Keogh into high mortality rates in England.
NHS Wales Chief Executive David Sissling has insisted there does not need to be a major inquiry into the health service here, as the organisation is already doing a lot of work to review and improve.
There have been calls for an inquiry into the standards of care in the NHS in Wales, particular after it was 12 people have died over the last 15 months while waiting for cardiac surgery at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.
Critics have demanded a major inquiry, similar to the one carried out by Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS Medical Director in England, into 14 hospital trusts with unusually high mortality rates there.
Mr Sissling told our Health Reporter Rob Osborne: "We're looking mortality rates and other indicators of quality care, we're bringing to bear external expertise where we need to do so, we're bringing the voice of the patient, the influence of our staff to bear."
"So in a sense we're undertaking this work, and we're doing it across all of the health system, not just looking at a very small percentage of hospitals and organisations. We're doing it for every part of the health service in Wales."