WAITING lists for NHS treatment are growing longer and have hit new records this summer, new figures show.

There are currently around 576,000 individual patients on waiting lists - and because some people are waiting to start more than one type of treatment, the waiting list in Wales is 732,000-strong.

The NHS Confederation has warned things will "likely worsen" in the winter and urged the government to provide extra support. 

The Welsh Government, which runs the NHS here, has pointed to recent investment and said it was making progress after Covid disrupted many non-urgent NHS services.

The Conservatives, however, said hospitals were "stuck playing catch-up", and warned "people in Wales are still suffering in a health system that is not working".

The number of patients waiting more than two years for treatment has fallen slightly, and for the third month in a row, but more than 62,000 people are affected by these longest waiting times.

Most people in Wales are waiting around 21-22 weeks for treatment to begin, figures for June show.

Other figures for June and July show:

  • The number of people waiting less than four hours in A&E was 65.7 per cent in Wales. In Gwent, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board's figure was 73.1 per cent - better than any comparable health boards. The government target is 95 per cent.
  • Some 54 per cent of cancer patients started treatment within the 62 days of their suspected diagnosis. Gwent's health board reported a rate of 49.4 per cent - the lowest in Wales. The government target is at least 75 per cent.
  • More than 39,000 calls were made to the Welsh Ambulance Service in July, of which 10.5 per cent were the most immediately life-threatening 'red' incidents. Some 52 per cent of red calls were responded to within eight minutes. The government target is 65 per cent.

Nesta Lloyd-Jones, the assistant director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, said there was "no glossing over" the national figures, which "paint an alarming picture of an NHS under severe strain".

Some health leaders had told the confederation this year's summer "has been more challenging that any winter".

Record red calls for ambulances, and demand on A&E departments, were piling pressures on staff who continue to show "unrelenting hard work and determination".

Ms Lloyd-Jones warned "things will likely worsen over the winter" and said the Welsh Government "urgently needs to provide further resources and support for local NHS services to address the considerable challenges ahead".

Commenting on the national figures, a Welsh Government spokesperson said "progress continues to be made to reduce the longest waits" and "the majority of patients continue to receive timely access to the care they need" despite "high demand" for emergency healthcare.

The recent urgent care programme, coupled with a new national ambulance improvement plan, will "help to improve patient experience and outcomes", the spokesperson added.

Russell George, the Conservatives' shadow health minister, called the national figures "incredibly dispiriting" and said the NHS was playing "catch-up" because of government "complacency".

“We’ve been saying for two years that we needed regional surgical hubs and rapid diagnostic centres to deal with this backlog, supported by our GP Access Plan launched in January but, as ever, Labour ignored sensible and workable calls," he added.