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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 January 2006, 13:52 GMT
NHS figures show wait times fall
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Waiting times for inpatient treatment have fallen in Wales
The latest NHS figures released by the Welsh Assembly Government have shown a fall in waiting times.

The figures show that in the past month, the number of people waiting more than 12 months for inpatient or day-care treatment fell by 29%.

Labour said progress has been made, but it is unclear if its 1 March target for no-one to wait more than a year for an appointment will be met.

Opposition parties said Labour had failed patients.

First appointment

The NHS waiting figures for the month up to 31 December 2005, published on Wednesday, indicated that the number of people waiting more than 12 months for inpatient or day case treatment fell by 29.1%.

They also showed that the number of patients waiting more than 12 months for a first outpatient appointment had fallen by 16.4%.

Health minister Dr Brian Gibbons meets hospital staff in Carmarthen on Wednesday

During First Minister's questions at the assembly on Tuesday, First Minister Rhodri Morgan insisted that "very good progress" was being made on waiting times.

He also said he was confident that the assembly government's target that by 1 March no-one will wait more than 12 months for either inpatient or a first outpatient appointment would be met.

During a visit to West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthen, Welsh Health Minister Brian Gibbons said: "Across Wales Trusts have made further progress on reducing long waiting times.

"We have always said that it's the length of time people have to wait, rather than who else is waiting, that matters to patients."

Dr Gibbons said his next waiting time target would be eight months from March 2007 and 26 weeks by the end of 2009.

He added: "Our commitment is that the length of time that patients will be waiting here in Wales is going to drop, drop, drop - right through to the end of the decade."

'Failed to deliver'

But the Welsh Conservatives said that the figures for Wales showed "absolutely no sign" that meeting the assembly government's target was likely.

Conservative AM Jonathan Morgan added: "At this rate, it will take at least another six months to see these people.

"Patients in Wales deserve better than this. Labour in the assembly have once again failed to deliver for the people of Wales."

Plaid Cymru said it was "unacceptable" that 280,000 people were on a waiting list in Wales.

'Still waiting'

Plaid health spokesperson Helen Mary Jones said: "Their latest target is that no one will wait more than 12 months by the end of March 2006.

"However over 7,000 patients are still waiting more than 12 months and it remains to be seen what Rhodri Morgan's government can do in the next three months to reach their latest target."

Jenny Randerson, Liberal Democrats health spokesperson said she found it "hard to believe" that the target would be reached, given that hospitals were coping with winter pressures.

She said: "At their present rate of progress there will still be nearly 3,000 people waiting over 12 months when they hit their March deadline┐.


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