Further increases in demand show the importance of supporting people to stay well

Director of the Welsh NHS Confederation Darren Hughes responds to the latest NHS performance statistics in Wales.

24 August 2023

  • Overall waiting lists, aka patient pathways, increased in June from around 748,400 to just under 754,300, the fourth consecutive increase and the second highest figure on record. This equates to around 589,000 individual patients on treatment waiting lists.  
  • In July, 74,321 calls were made to the 111 helpline service, an increase of over 6,600 calls compared to the previous month. Of these, over 69,300 calls were answered (93%). This was the second highest proportion answered since May 2022.
  • In July there were 4,029 red (life threatening) calls to the ambulance service. 52.6% of red calls received an emergency response within eight minutes. This was 2 percentage points lower than in June, but the fourth highest since June 2022.
  • The proportion of patient pathways waiting less than 26 weeks increased to 59.3% in June. This has been relatively stable. The number of pathways waiting longer than 36 weeks decreased in June, to just under 229,300, but remains high in historical context.
  • For cancer services, more people started their first definitive treatment in June (1,880) than the previous month, with 1,003 pathways starting their first definitive treatment within 62 days of first being suspected of cancer (53.4%). This was 0.7 percentage points lower than the previous month, 2.7 percentage points lower than June 2022 and the second lowest on record.
  • In July, there was an average 3,061 daily attendances to emergency departments, a decrease compared to the previous month. Performance decreased slightly against the four hour target and the twelve hour target. 

Responding to the latest NHS performance statistics in Wales, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation Darren Hughes said: 

“Despite serious operational and financial challenges, NHS leaders and staff across the NHS continue to pull out all the stops to care for patients.

“While in June and July there was a slight decrease in the number of people attending emergency departments compared to the previous month, there was an increase in the number of people calling 111 helpline service, the second highest answered since May 2022, and more people starting their treatment for cancer services.

“However, NHS leaders will be disappointed that there is a slight increase to the number of patients on waiting lists, the second highest on record. We therefore welcome the recently published three-year strategy and action plan to transform planned care, with the emphasis on providing support and information to people who have been referred for treatment.

“It is vital that we continue to engage with the public to empower them to better self-manage their condition and support positive outcomes for both their treatment and also their recovery.

“With demand across the health and care system increasing and NHS leaders having to make difficult decisions about spending priorities, now is the time for an open and honest conversation with the public about what the future health and care service looks like. This must concentrate on creating an NHS which empowers and enables populations to live healthier lives, and which consequently benefits from improved public health. It must centre on increased care in the community and prevention.

“It is for the population and all sectors across Wales to ask what they can do to support the health and wellbeing of people now and in the future. With the demand on health and care services increasing, change must happen, it’s simply not an option to stay as we are.”