Wales politics

Welsh NHS hospital waiting lists reach new high

A nurse takes a patient's temperature Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In December 2011 just 7,699 patients were waiting nine months or more for hospital treatment

The number of patients in Wales waiting longer than they should for hospital treatment has reached 21,000 for the first time, after rising 8% in a month.

Referral to treatment figures for December show 21,226 patients were not seen within the NHS target time of nine months for all patients to be seen.

The figure for November was 19,679.

A Welsh government spokesman said: "The standard wait for treatment in Wales is now less than 11 weeks, despite a considerable increase in demand."

'Failing' claim

The statistics show 357,848 people waited less than six months and 41,411 waited between six and nine months.

The spokesman added: "The figures for December 2014 show nearly nine out of 10 patients were waiting less than the 26-week target time for treatment (of 95% of patients), with 95% waiting less than 36 weeks (target for 100% of patients)."

Conservative Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar said the number of patients waiting for treatment had "more than doubled on Labour's watch", blaming "record-breaking cuts on the Welsh NHS budget".

Plaid Cymru health spokeswoman Elin Jones accused Welsh ministers of "failing to manage health boards to deliver the improvements we all need".

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams said the figures demonstrated why she was calling for a "cross-party and no-party commission so we can try to tackle these issues now and in the future".

Meanwhile, the number of patients waiting more than eight weeks for diagnostic services such as MRI scans and ultrasounds in Wales rose by around 1,000 in December to just under 21,000.

More on this story