Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic in March, I agreed to the suspension of the reporting of some NHS performance statistics to allow the service to focus on its response to the pandemic.
Today, the Welsh Government is resuming the publication of these statistics, in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics. This includes new planned care data for referral to treatment waits, diagnostic and therapy waits and cancer waiting times for all months between February and September 2020, and new unscheduled care data for emergency departments and ambulance services for all months between March and October 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the NHS. I would like to put on record again my thanks to all staff who have worked under immense pressure throughout this year to care for people with coronavirus, while also managing the normal demands for healthcare.
In March, I announced all planned activity would be postponed to enable health boards to prepare for the pandemic; urgent activity, including cancer and emergency care has continued throughout the pandemic, where it was safe to do so and in the best interest of the individual.
Since the last planned care statistics were published in February, the number of people on the waiting list has increased, as they have elsewhere in the UK. This is due, in part, to the additional measures, which have been put in place to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading and to ensure people can be seen and treated safely. Everyone on the waiting list is being reviewed by their clinician and seen in order of clinical priority.
Today, we will also publish a new set of experimental measures for people accessing care in our emergency departments. These have been designed with frontline staff.
We will publish these new measures, which provide a richer picture of people’s experience in emergency departments than the current four-hour target on the NHS Wales National Collaborative Commission Unit website, in the same way the ambulance quality indicators are published.
The new measures are time from arrival at an emergency department to triage by a clinician; time from arrival to assessment by a senior clinical decision-maker and disposition of patients following end-of-treatment in the emergency department.
When combined with the existing information about the average time spent in an emergency department, these new measures will help senior NHS leaders focus resources in the right places, at the right time to improve patient care and, ultimately, save more lives.