The Welsh Government has issued a statement on the latest NHS Wales performance data published today.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said:
“Our NHS is currently dealing with a hugely difficult winter, whilst facing the grueling challenges of the omicron variant, severe winter pressures and staff absences caused by the pandemic.
“The data shows how progress was beginning to be made in planned care in November, before the impacts of the omicron wave were truly felt and exerted considerable winter pressures on the health service. We anticipate next month’s data, which will include December, will reflect this.
“Healthcare workers should be commended for their determination to maintain high quality care to hundreds of thousands of patients each month, as well as supporting record breaking levels of boosters during the latest phase of our Covid-19 programme over the last two months.
“Despite ongoing pressures to deliver planned care and some health boards having to review this, activity levels and diagnoses of cancer both increased in the latest data. The number of patients newly diagnosed with cancer who started their first definitive treatment increased to the highest level since comparable data was first collected in June 2019. Furthermore, the number of patients informed they did not have cancer increased on the previous month.
“Although the number of people waiting to start treatment has risen to more than 682,000 and continues to rise, the 0.4% increase in November is the smallest increase in the total numbers waiting since the start of the pandemic.
“November saw more than 78,000 patient pathways closed, the highest number in nearly two years.
“Progress is also being made in diagnostics. Although the number of people waiting for diagnostic tests remains higher than before the pandemic started and increased slightly in November 2021, the number waiting longer than the target time has decreased. It comes after significant investment in diagnostic equipment was announce last year, including more than £51m to replace ageing diagnostic equipment, £25m to replace imaging equipment and £25m in four new PET CT scanners.
“We are doing all we can to support our urgent and emergency care services and we would urge everyone to Help Us, Help You this winter by considering how and when they access care.
“The ‘My Winter Health Plan’ scheme will celebrate its fifth anniversary later this year, and offers an easy way for people with long-term physical or mental health conditions to share information with visiting health professionals so they get the right care for their personal circumstances. This can often prevent an avoidable trip to hospital.
“We will distribute an additional 20,000 plans this winter, which will be available from community pharmacies across Wales and downloadable from the NHS 111 Wales website.
"Your local pharmacy and the 111 online service can provide advice for minor illnesses and ailments.”