NHS Waiting Lists

2. Questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care – in the Senedd at on 5 June 2024.

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Photo of Rhys ab Owen Rhys ab Owen Plaid Cymru

(Translated)

4. What is the Welsh Government doing to reduce the number of patients on waiting lists in South Wales Central? OQ61190

Photo of Baroness Mair Eluned Morgan Baroness Mair Eluned Morgan Labour 2:40, 5 June 2024

(Translated)

We are determined to reduce long waiting times across Wales. The number of people waiting for two years has fallen every month since we published our planned care recovery plan. In March 2024, the number waiting two years was 71 per cent less than in March 2022, the lowest since July 2021.

Photo of Rhys ab Owen Rhys ab Owen Plaid Cymru

(Translated)

Thank you, Minister. It's good to hear that the two-year waiting lists are reducing, but figures published at the end of last month by Digital Health and Care Wales show the challenge facing the health service—almost 600,000 on the waiting lists, 18 per cent on the strategic pathway for over a year, compared to 4 per cent in England. 

The waiting lists for cancer treatments are terrifying for individuals and their families. Constituents have contacted me worried for their lives and for the lives of their relatives. Forty per cent of patients in Wales are waiting more than 62 days to start treatment after cancer is first suspected. This is a time of great anxiety for people, and, as you know, Minister, behind every bare statistic, there are individuals and their families. So, what is the Minister doing to respond to the lack of progress on the target that 75 per cent of cancer patients should start their treatment within 62 days? Thank you. 

Photo of Baroness Mair Eluned Morgan Baroness Mair Eluned Morgan Labour 2:41, 5 June 2024

(Translated)

Thank you. I think, first of all, that we need to say that, on average, people in Wales wait 22 weeks to get treatment. But you're quite right, when it comes to cancer, we need to move more swiftly, and that's why I think that the situation at present is not acceptable. One of the problems that we have is in the area of diagnostics. You have to remember, in terms of diagnostics, a lot of different areas use diagnostic capacity, not just cancer. The number of people who are sent to receive diagnostic tests—people on the suspected cancer pathway—has increased 50 per cent over the last three years. So, they hit a bottleneck, and that's part of the problem. That's why we have a diagnostic plan. We are investing in diagnostic capacity at present, and I do hope that that will make a difference, and will mean that more patients will be seen more quickly. 

Photo of Vikki Howells Vikki Howells Labour 2:43, 5 June 2024

Cabinet Secretary, the diagnostic and treatment hub at Llantrisant, developed by Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, working together with Aneurin Bevan and Cardiff and Vale health boards, launched the first of its services in April this year, and has already made inroads into waiting lists by fast-tracking over 200 patients through its MRI scanners. Cabinet Secretary, do you agree with me that this hub has significant potential to further reduce waiting lists as its services get up and running, and can you reaffirm your commitment to supporting this innovative new model?

Photo of Baroness Mair Eluned Morgan Baroness Mair Eluned Morgan Labour

Thanks very much, Vikki. Isn't it absolutely true that straight after the cancer question, we come straight into a diagnostic question? That is where the bottleneck is, as I say, and this is an example of us actually investing in the diagnostic capacity. What we've got there at the moment is a mobile diagnostic service. I think that's good as we go ahead, but what we're looking at is developing a really comprehensive regional diagnostic system that covers three health boards in that situation in Llantrisant. So, that's where we're heading for. The initial feedback from the people even using the mobile diagnostic system has been really positive, especially around good access to the site and to the scanner, but, as I say, what we're trying to do is to develop that regional capacity and to build that up. So, this is the first step in a much more comprehensive plan. 

Photo of Elin Jones Elin Jones Plaid Cymru

(Translated)

Question 5 [OQ61201] has been withdrawn.