The Welsh Government has issued a statement on the latest NHS Wales performance data published today.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said:
Thanks to the heroic efforts of our NHS staff we only saw the waiting lists increase by 0.2% in December, the lowest increase since the start of the pandemic, despite the fact that so many staff were diverted to the super-fast roll out of the booster programme during that month.
Demanding winter pressures, the Omicron wave and the need to support the vaccination programme continued to place considerable strain on the NHS in December 2021.
These challenges led to the postponement of a number of appointments and planned treatments across Wales and some people were waiting longer for treatment than we would like.
We want to thank our healthcare workforce for delivering vast amounts of booster vaccinations while continuing to provide high-quality care to hundreds of thousands of patients each month.
Despite these ongoing pressures, the data shows the number of patient pathways waiting for therapies fell slightly in the last month after increasing every month in 2021.
We have also seen some improvement in performance against the 62-day cancer target which increased compared to the previous month to 58.6 per cent of pathways starting their first definitive treatment in the month within the target time.
While the number of patient pathways waiting for treatment increased again in December 2021, it was at the slowest rate since the start of the pandemic.
Our ambulance data shows that January 2022 saw a decrease in the total number of calls made to the ambulance service on the previous month however there remains high numbers of life-threatening calls with more than 100 recorded a day. Despite this, performance against the eight minute ambulance response target increased by 1.4 percentage points on the previous month.
We have provided £248m so far to support our NHS recovery plan. In April we will publish a detailed plan on how we will tackle the waiting times for patients whose treatment has been delayed by the pandemic.
A wide range of services have seen a significant increase in demand over recent years such as ophthalmology.
The NHS Wales University Eye Care Centre in Cardiff is one example of how NHS Wales is reducing the wait for people with urgent or complex eye cases to be seen in hospital, by carrying out eye care treatments within a primary care setting.
We have long set out our ambition to transform the way we deliver services to meet the demand of the future. Community clinics, the additional theatres and Cardiff & Vales’ NHS Wales University Eye Care Centre are an excellent example of this vision.