More cash to tackle test waits in Gwent

HOSPITALS in Gwent will receive more than £100,000 of funding for new equipment targeted at cutting waiting times for key diagnostic tests.

And patients in the area are set to benefit from Aneurin Bevan Health Board working with other health boards in South Wales to provide mobile scanners on a regional basis, again to help cut waiting times for tests, and paid for through an extra £4 million of Welsh Government funding.

The announcements were made yesterday, when newly published waiting time figures for diagnostic tests and therapies revealed, Gwent has patients waiting longer for diagnostic tests than any other part of Wales and also, more patients have been waiting longer than the standard eight weeks for such tests.

The equipment award, £102,000 in total, will buy two bronchoscopes and a voice stroboscope, which will be used to help diagnose respiratory and voice problems in Gwent patients.

Faster access to these and a range of other tests, from heart tests to endoscopies and MRI and CT scans, is vital as it means patients can start their treatment more quickly.

Health minister Mark Drakeford said access to diagnostic tests is improving despite the pressures on the NHS, but accepts waits are still too long in some cases.

He said: “Speeding up access to these tests will mean that patients get the results faster, and can start their full treatment sooner, meaning overall waiting times should reduce.”

But just over a third of all Welsh patients who are waiting for a diagnostic test have waited longer than eight weeks.

Conservative AM and shadow health minister Darren Millar said: “These figures show Welsh patients are waiting longer to receive a diagnosis and longer from GP referral to treatment than over the border and waiting too long can be lead to devastating outcomes.”

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