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  1. ITV Report

Urgent action needed to tackle outpatient waiting times

Credit: PA

The number of people waiting for follow-up hospital outpatient appointments in Wales has increased substantially since 2015, according to a report by the Auditor General for Wales.

375,000
patients are currently experiencing delays to their follow-up appointments.

The Auditor General says urgent action is needed with the number of patients waiting twice as long as they should be increasing by 55% to around 200,000.

I find the worsening trend around delays to outpatient follow-up appointments extremely concerning and patients are being put at risk. This needs to be addressed urgently across Wales. There are some encouraging signs. We've seen pockets of good practice and a recognition among senior leaders and clinicians that things need to change. But this really needs to be shared, spread and upscaled more widely, and quickly, if it is to achieve the change that is urgently needed.

– Adrian Crompton, Auditor General for Wales

The report calls for a reduction in the number of patients experiencing delays and for health boards to get better at assessing and managing the risks to patients.

The Welsh Government says it's working to make improvements and has commissioned the Outpatients Steering Group to support local health boards secure improvements.

More than three million outpatient attendances take place every year in Wales. with that volume in the system comes challenges around arranging follow up appointments and we are working with health boards to make further improvements in this area.

– Welsh Government statement

Shadow Health Secretary Angela Burns AM said the Welsh Government "has to wake up and recognise the desperate need for change".

If there are issues with delays, then problems aren't being picked up and the patient’s situation reverts to poor.

It's counter-productive and adds further stress to an already over-extended NHS in Wales.

I am very concerned by the fact that there has been a 55% increase in the number of patients waiting twice as long as they should since 2015 - make no mistake that this is a terrifying statistic.

The Welsh Government has to wake up and recognise the desperate need for change.

I've seen first-hand an example of a man who was given the all clear after cancer treatment which then required a follow-up appointment for a check-up at 6 and 12 months.

The 12 month check-up was delayed by another 6 months, whereupon the man’s cancer had returned, leaving the chemotherapy ineffective at such a late stage. This is just one tragic example of the consequences of these delays.

– Angela Burns AM, Shadow Health Secretary