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Wales' waiting times for diagnostic tests 'worst in UK'

Doctors in Wales say waiting times for diagnostic tests here are amongst the worst in Europe and could be making the difference between life and death.

Official figures today show numbers are falling but Plaid Cymru claim Welsh patients are still waiting up to 20 times longer than those in the rest of the UK.

They say, on average, 41.2% of patients in Wales wait more than six weeks for such tests - ten times more than in Scotland and 20 times more than in England.

  1. National

Welsh Govt 'expect waiting times to come down'

The Welsh Government said they "expect waiting times for diagnostic tests to come down" after NHS statistics showed Wales was the worst-performing country in the UK in that area.

Despite the pressures on the NHS, access to diagnostic tests is improving.

However, the health minister Mark Drakeford acknowledges waits are still too long in some cases, and last month announced £5 million of new funding to help the NHS reduce waiting times for those scans and tests where there are particular challenges.

Speeding up access to these tests will mean that patients get the results faster and can start their full treatment sooner. We expect waiting times for diagnostic tests to come down.

– Welsh Government spokeswoman

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Plaid Cymru: Stats show Labour's NHS mismanagement

Elin Jones, Plaid Cymru health spokeswoman, said the figures showing that Wales has high waiting list times for life-saving tests highlighted "the stark reality of Labour's mismanagement of the NHS".

The Health Minister needs to take emergency action to bring down these waiting lists and help the thousands of people who are in limbo as they await a diagnosis. We need to make sure that the diagnostic machines are staffed for longer so that they can be used to their capacity.

This will need extra funding, but failure to do so would be condemning patients to wait even longer for basic tests.

Plaid Cymru has long advocated better planning within the NHS so we can plan ahead for the future workforce, keep waiting lists down and make the Welsh NHS the efficient service that it can be.

– Plaid Cymru health spokeswoman and Ceredigion Assembly Member Elin Jones
  1. National

Wales waiting time statistics 'most disturbing in years'

NHS statistics which show that Wales has the worst waiting times for life-saving tests in the UK are "the most disturbing" health figures seen "in many years", a doctor said.

Carmarthen-based doctor Dewi Evans, who has been working in the health service since 1971, said early diagnostic tests were important because they could be a matter of life and death.

Read: Wales has worst waiting times for NHS tests in UK

The checks - such as MRI scans and cystoscopies - can be used by medics to check whether a person has cancer.

These investigations are the mainstay of early and accurate diagnoses of life-threatening conditions.

In terms of significance, these are the most disturbing NHS statistics I have seen in many years. Diagnostic tests are one of the most important parts of the health service.

– Dr Dewi Evans
  1. National

Wales has worst waiting times for NHS tests in UK

Wales has the worst waiting times record for life-saving tests in the UK, according to new figures.

Wales has the worst waiting times record for life-saving tests. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Around 42% of people in Wales waiting for diagnostic tests had to wait more than six weeks before they were finally seen, according to government statistics.

This compares with 1.8% in England and 3.8% in Scotland.

And the statistics also show 16.6% of patients on the Welsh diagnostic waiting list wait longer than 12 weeks.

In Northern Ireland, 15.5% on the list had to wait more than nine weeks.

Welsh Government: 'unprecedented pressures' in NHS

The Welsh Government said there have been "unprecedented emergency care pressures" in recent months, which have hurt the NHS in Wales' ability to meet referral-to-treatment targets.

The majority of patients waiting are waiting less than 26 weeks.

This is despite unprecedented emergency care pressures, and this pressure has had an impact on the NHS’ ability to treat those patients scheduled to have operations.

We are working closely with health boards to ensure the most urgent patients are seen first, and that all patients are seen in order of clinical priority.

Our target remains to reduce the maximum wait for 95% of patients to 26 weeks, and the Minister has made her expectations clear to NHS Chairs.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

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Conservatives: 'Targets consistently missed'

The Welsh Conservatives have pointed out that waiting time targets from referral to treatment are "consistently" being missed, and that the figures published this morning show 389,019 people - around one in eight in Wales - are waiting for treatment of some kind on the NHS in Wales.

Despite the best efforts of hardworking NHS staff, waiting time targets are being regularly missed and more patients are waiting longer for treatment.

Long waits to start hospital treatment can be distressing and worrying for vulnerable patients and their families.

Waiting time targets are consistently being missed month by month with little prospect of the Labour Health Minister getting to grips with the problem.

Labour’s record-breaking cuts of half a billion pounds to the NHS will only further constrain capacity and make it more difficult for patients to be treated promptly.

– Darren Millar AM, Shadow Minister for Health

NHS in Wales missing targets for referral to treatment

The NHS in Wales has slipped further away from hitting its targets for the time it takes for patients to be treated in hospital, after being referred.

  • It aims to have 95% of patients starting treatment within 26 weeks of referral - but, for those who began treatment in December, that only reached 82.9%
  • It aims to have 100% of patients starting treatment within 36 weeks - but, for those who began treatment in December, that only reached 96.3%
  • By the end of December, there were more than 36,000 patients still waiting, after more than 26 weeks, to start treatment - a larger number than at any time over the last two years
  • There were more than 5,000 still waiting, after more than 36 weeks, to start treatment - the most since January 2012