Headlines: April 27th, 2006

National Health Service staff in Wales have been congratulated after new figures showing that Trusts across Wales have met the target that no patient should wait more than 12 months for inpatient treatment or a first outpatient appointment. The end of the year waiting times have been described as a record achievement.The new figures show a big drop in the last year in the number of people waiting more than a year. In March last year there were 840 people facing long waits for inpatient care. The number of people waiting over 12 months for a first outpatient appointment has fallen from 13,860 last March to just 15 now. All of those are Welsh residents waiting for an appointment from an English NHS Trust.

Welsh Assembly Health Minister, Dr Gibbons said NHS staff had worked tirelessly to reduce waiting times. “I would like to thank them all, from front line clinical staff to back room administrative staff, for their hard work. All of them made their vital contribution to meeting this landmark target. I want patients regardless of where they live in Wales to receive the best patient care. NHS staff are playing a vital role in making this happen,” he said. The latest figures, he said, meant waiting list times had reached a record low. More than three-quarters of patients on the lists for inpatient or day-care treatment had been waiting less than six months. On the first outpatients appointment list 80 per cent of people had waited less than six months.

Dr Gibbons said there were still challenges to be faced and by 2007 the Assembly Government wanted nobody to be waiting more than 8 months for inpatient or day-care treatment or a first outpatient appointmen