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The Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan, responds to latest NHS Wales performance data.

First published:
21 December 2023
Last updated:

Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan said:

Every day our heroic NHS staff provide a quality service under record levels of demand.

I’m pleased to see that despite increasing high levels of demand for our cancer services, performance against the cancer target has increased this month to 56 per cent, alongside a record number of people being told they did not have cancer in October.

Nearly 2,000 people started treatment for cancer this month, an increase of 8 per cent compared to the same month last year and the second highest figure on record.

We have placed a clear focus on tackling both those patients with an urgent need and those that have waited the longest. We have continued to see the number of patients waiting over two years fall – down by 64 per cent since its peak.

I previously tasked health boards with ensuring 97 per cent of those waiting at the end of December 2023 will be waiting less than 104 weeks. We were extremely close to achieving that in October (96.6 per cent) with four health boards already having achieved that target.

Over the last 3 years we have reduced the average wait time for planned care patients by a third, with the median wait now stable at around 20 weeks.

Demand for emergency care services remains significant, with the ambulance service now dealing with around 80 per cent more red calls daily than they did before the pandemic. The average number of daily red calls made in November was the third highest on record.

Despite this, 75 per cent of these calls received a response within 13 minutes. And we saw an increase from last month in the proportion of red calls being responded to within the 8 minute target.

People are also being seen quicker when they arrive at emergency departments with the average time to triage from arrival down to 18 minutes, the lowest it has been since March 2021. Performance also improved against the four-hour target and the twelve hour target for emergency departments.

We have built on learning from last winter and put in place a number of measures to increase our resilience this year. These include 119 more ambulance staff than last year, and more staff available to respond to calls to the NHS 111 Wales service – which continues to help tens of thousands of people to receive urgent health advice, both online and over the telephone, 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Thousands of people a month are also accessing care in the community and away from Emergency Departments, at Urgent Primary Care Centres and Same Day Emergency Care Services. The number of people accessing consultations for common ailments via community pharmacy teams has also increased fivefold.

It’s disappointing to see overall waiting lists reaching their highest levels on record. That is due to the number of people joining the waiting lists. But over the last 12 months waiting lists in Wales have only increased by 1 per cent compared to 7 per cent in England.