Why are we waiting in Wales?

Government figures show Wales has the UK’s worst wait times for diagnostic tests, with almost half of patients waiting over six weeks.

Recently released government figures have shown that Wales records the worst wait times for diagnostic tests in the UK, with 42% of patients waiting over six weeks for tests compared to 1.8% in England and 3.8% in Scotland.

The data also showed that 16.6% of Welsh patients were waiting over 3 months for their potentially life-saving tests, prompting Welsh doctors to warn of a crisis within NHS Wales.

While the NHS has recently come under fire for its ambulance waiting times falling below national standards, the diagnostic testing wait times are being described by one doctor as “disturbing.”

Dewi Evans, a doctor based in Carmathern, said: “These investigations are the mainstay of early and accurate diagnoses of life-threatening conditions. In terms of significance, these are the most disturbing NHS statistics I have seen in many years.”

The nationalist party Plaid Cymru said the situation was worsening, prompting the government to dismiss Plaid’s comments as a “complete distortion” and claim “despite the pressures on the NHS, access to diagnostic tests is improving”.

In response to the statistical evidence, the Welsh governments acknowledged that “waits are still too long in some cases” and drew attention to an additional £5m funding, announced last month, which will go towards reducing wait times for the tests that are facing delays.

“Speeding up access to these tests means that patients get the results faster and can start their full treatment sooner,” said a government spokesman. “We expect waiting times for diagnostic tests to come down.”