New Welsh Government must prioritise ending industrial action in the NHS

Assistant director of the Welsh NHS Confederation responds to the latest NHS performance data for Wales.

21 March 2024

  • In February, an average of 159 immediately life-threatening calls were made to the ambulance service each day, 3 less than in January, but still the fourth highest on record.
  • In January, the number of patient pathways waiting to start treatment decreased from just over 756,300 to just over 755,400. 
  • In January, just over 23,400 pathways were waiting more than two years, two thirds (66.7%) lower than the peak and continuing to fall month on month. 

Responding to the latest NHS performance and activity data for Wales, Nesta Lloyd-Jones, assistant director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, said:

“There are some indications of progress in planned care, with the overall number of patient pathways coming down slightly in January, and those waiting more than two years continues to fall month on month, showing the concerted effort by health boards to target the longest waiters.

“However, the proportion waiting less than 26 weeks decreased and the number waiting longer than 36 weeks increased. This in no way reflects the planning and hard work of staff, as they grappled with the height of winter pressures and disruptive industrial action.

“It’s vital Wales’ new First Minister and the Minister for Health and Social Services engage with health trade unions to prevent further industrial action in the NHS. Industrial action is and will continue to have a huge impact on service delivery, undoing much of the good work that has been done to recover performance following the pandemic.

“Resolving trade union disputes and investing in social care, workforce, capital and digital are the NHS’s only chance to free up patient flow in hospitals and have the capacity to reduce both urgent & emergency care and planned care waiting times, ultimately improving outcomes for patients. In the longer term, addressing inequalities and the wider determinants of health will be our only hope of sustainable health and care services and supporting a healthier population.”