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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 July 2005, 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
Gibbons - 'NHS lists improving'
Dr Brian Gibbons
Dr Gibbons - improvements on last year but still challenges
More patients are being treated in hospital within six months than a year ago, according the Health Minister Dr Brian Gibbons.

Figures published on Wednesday show that more than 75% of patients waiting for inpatient or day case treatment had been waiting less than six months.

This compares with 64% in June 2004.

But the Liberal Democrats, pointing to a 4,283 monthly rise in outpatient waiting lists, said there was a "litany of failures" on key targets.

The Conservatives said the total number of patients waiting for treatment now stands at 294,700 which they claimed was a 10,000 increase since March this year.

"These recent rises in the number of patients waiting for treatment are a damming indictment of the health minister's performance," said party health spokesman Jonathan Morgan.

The newly-published statistics for the last month show that patients waiting more than 12 months for an outpatients appointment rose by 271 to 14,136.

Those waiting 12 months for admission, including those who turned down a 'second offer' - which promises earlier treatment at an alternative hospital - rose by 23 to 1,196 in June.

But focussing on a the more long-term picture, Dr Gibbons said that the assembly government figures showed that the total number of patients waiting for inpatient treatment continued to fall and was now at the lowest since 1999.

WAITING TIME TARGETS
Hospital ward
Four month waits for cataract surgery - rise from 36 to 42 in June
Six month angiography waits - rise from zero to four
Eight month waits for cardiac surgery - rise from zero to two
Six months waits for cardiac revascularisation - falls from 71 to 57
Source: National Assembly for Wales, for end of June 2005

He said: "These figures highlight the success over the last year while showing the challenges that we still face.

"There are over 7,700 fewer people waiting over 12 months for day case or inpatient treatment and over 7,000 fewer people waiting over 18 months for an outpatient appointment".

Dr Gibbons said that the health service was "getting a better grip" on overall waiting time management.

He said long waits for outpatient appointments were continuing to fall and in specialist areas such as cardiac surgery there were now only 53 patients waiting over six months for treatment.

"With our continued investment into the NHS the patient experience is set to continue improving for patients across Wales," Dr Gibbons added.

The monthly rise in the outpatient lists mostly involves patients waiting under six months, but those waiting more than 18 months had fallen to 83.

Plaud Cymru's health spokesman Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM said the assembly government had "failed to address the problem of long waiting times" and that the gap was widening with England.

He said: "The number of those on a waiting list is unacceptable and long waiting times continue to be a dominant feature under a Labour government in Wales".

Liberal Democrat health spokeswoman Jenny Randerson AM said that the second offer scheme was "failing to treat all the ills of the NHS".

She said: "When I questioned Brian Gibbons last month on the reasons for the rises, he blamed the time of the year. One month on and at a different time of the year the problem is still the same".




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