8:00pm Monday 16th April 2012
By Andy Rutherford - Health correspondent
NO GWENT patients waited more than 36 weeks from GP referral to treatment in the area's hospitals by the end of February, the latest figures reveal.
And there was a big fall during that month in the numbers of Gwent patients waiting longer than 36 weeks for treatment in hospitals in other parts of Wales.
The February figures maintained Aneurin Bevan Health Board's position as the only board in Wales with acute services to keep waiting times below 36 weeks during 2011/12.
Bosses decided last year to invest in minimising waits over 36 weeks, and the policy has paid off in terms of a comparison with other health boards.
Cardiff and Vale Health Board had 1,899 patients waiting longer than 36 weeks by the end of February, Cwm Taf had 1,503, Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board had 790, and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg 555.
Thirty-six weeks is intended as an absolute maximum waiting time only for complex cases, with 26 weeks intended as a maximum for the majority of patients.
Maintaining maximum waits below 36 weeks during a busy winter has been a significant achievement in Gwent.
Another encouraging development has been a 27 per cent fall - from 579 to 420 - in the number of Gwent patients waiting longer than 36 weeks for treatment outside the area.
This figure had remained above 500 for several months, and had risen to 665 by the end of December. The reduction reflects moves to repatriate orthopaedics cases back to Gwent, and efforts by other health boards to reduce waits of longer than 36 weeks.
The 420 patients waiting over 36 weeks for treatment elsewhere were scheduled to receive it through Cardiff and Vale Health Board (218), Cwm Taf (160), and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg (42).
By the end of February, 4,363 patients in Gwent were in the waiting time bracket of 26-36 weeks, which the health board is keen to see being reduced.
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