£13.4m claw back over NHS Wales waiting time failures

By Owain Clarke
BBC Wales health correspondent

image copyrightAndrei Malov/Getty Images

More than £13m has been withheld from three health boards for failing to meet targets on cutting patient waiting lists in Wales.

An extra £50m funding was announced in August 2017 by the health secretary to deliver faster improvements in routine surgery, diagnostics and therapies.

Earlier this month it was reported that £3.13m had been clawed back from Betsi Cadwaladr health board in north Wales.

But Abertawe Bro Morgannwg and Aneurin Bevan also failed to meet the target.

  • Abertawe Bro Morgannwg - which covers an area from Bridgend to Swansea - did not receive £7.4m
  • Aneurin Bevan - which covers Newport and the Gwent valleys - did not receive £2.9m because they had fallen short of the improvements expected.

However Cardiff and Vale and Cwm Taf health boards both met their targets and Hywel Dda health board - despite its share of budget issues recently - exceeded the targets it was given.

Despite the fact that three health boards did not show enough improvement to qualify for the allocated funding, the Welsh Government insists there waiting times performance has improved significantly across Wales.

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The number of patients waiting more than nine months (36 weeks) for all treatments has reduced by 10,000 since the extra funding was announced in August.

The most recent statistics also show that waiting times for therapy are at a seven-year low and diagnostic waiting times in Wales are at their lowest level since 2009.

An Aneurin Bevan health board spokesman blamed emergency pressures and adverse weather conditions in February and March, which led to more than 900 routine operations being cancelled.

"We continue to work to reduce the number of patients waiting and plan to have no patients in Gwent waiting more than 36 weeks for treatment by the end of March 2019," he said.

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg chief executive Tracy Myhill apologised to patients who were waiting longer than they should be.

"As a health board we are performing well in diagnostics, therapies and outpatient services," she said. "We are now concentrating on improving access to our theatres, so more patients will get their surgery more quickly."

She said the reduction in waiting times had not been as much as they had hoped for.

"The severe winter weather, coupled with the flu outbreak - which was particularly bad in our area - had major impacts on our plans for reducing waits for planned surgery," she added.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "Cardiff and Vale and Cwm Taf health boards met the waiting list reduction targets we set and Hywel Dda exceeded their target.

"Despite overall improvements across Wales, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg, Aneurin Bevan, and Betsi Cadwaladr health boards missed the targets set."

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