Waiting times for scans fall to record low 

14 May 2008, Welsh Government

Health Minister Edwina Hart today [Wednesday, 14 May] congratulated NHS staff across Wales for their hard work in further reducing the time patients wait for diagnostic and therapy services.

New figures published today show that the number of people waiting more than the Assembly Government's 14-week target for a diagnostic test, like an MRI or CT scan, endoscopy, ultrasound and echocardiogram fell from 1,874 in February to two in March.

Waits for therapy treatment, such as physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy together with audiology services saw a fall from 310 waiting more than the 24-week target in February to two in March.

These targets were set for March 2008.

This is an even greater achievement compared to the number of patients waiting six months ago, when 5,180 were waiting over 14 weeks for diagnostic tests and 1,675 waited more than 24 weeks for therapy and audiology services.

Wales was the first UK country to publish diagnostic and therapy waiting times as part of the drive to reduce waiting times.

Edwina Hart said: "I would like to take this opportunity to thank all NHS staff who have worked tirelessly to meet these challenging waiting times targets.

"We have increased investment in staff and equipment to cut waiting times.

"In February this year, I announced nearly £33million of funding for new equipment including an MRI scanner, x-ray and endoscopy machines. This is on top of significant investment in recent years in MRI and CT scanners. Two MRI scanners were recently installed in Swansea and Carmarthen.

"Our targets in Wales have been developed in close consultation with health professionals to ensure that patients receive the appropriate care and treatment within reasonable waiting times. Clinicians prioritise patients within these times to ensure that those most in need of treatment receive it when they need it.

"Now, of course, the NHS will be working towards the target that by the end of December 2009, no patients will wait more than 26 weeks from primary care referral to treatment, including any waiting for diagnostic tests. This new equipment will help us build on our achievements and work towards next year's challenging targets.

"These latest statistics show that we are moving in the right direction and I am confident that we are well on course to achieve next year's targets."