HUNDREDS of patients across Gwent are waiting far too long for key diagnostic tests and therapies.

The latest figures, for the end of last November, indicate that almost 900 patients in Gwent had waited longer than the target eight weeks for heart tests specified in Welsh Government waiting-time guidelines.

More than 600 of these had waited longer than 14 weeks – accounting for more than 90 per cent of these long waits in Wales – and 24 of these had waited 31 weeks or longer, four times the target. More than 750 Gwent patients had been waiting longer than the target eight weeks for a diagnostic endoscopy, though problems with long waits for these types of test were common across Wales.

Close to 2,200 Gwent patients had been waiting longer than eight weeks for a radiology test having been referred by a consultant.

And almost 4,400 had waited longer than eight weeks for a radiology tests having been referred by their GP.

Such radiology tests include the likes of CT and MRI scans, and non-obstetric ultrasound, and for both consultant and GP referrals, the Gwent figures for waits longer than eight weeks were the highest in Wales, though there are backlogs across other health board areas.

The maximum waiting time for a specified therapy – such as audiology (adult hearing aids), dietetics, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, podiatry, and speech and language – is 14 weeks and problems again exist across Wales in meeting this target.

In Gwent, 873 people had waited more than 14 weeks in audiology by the end of November, the biggest figure for a single health board area in Wales.

Diagnostic and therapy services for NHS Wales are no longer subject to formal waiting times, but the maximum amount of time patients should expect to wait for these, are now referred to as operational standards.

They have a key role in helping meet referral to treatment times – but the end-of-November figure for the latter shows problems with these too. No more than five per cent of patients at any one time should be waiting more than 26 weeks from referral to treatment. At November 30, the figure was close to 8.8 per cent. And no patients should wait longer than 36 weeks, but Wales-wide by the end of November, this figure was 6,265.