LATEST NHS figures have shown a slight reduction in how long patients in Gwent are waiting for treatment.
The figures show the median wait from being referred, by a GP for instance, to receiving treatment reduced to 18.5 weeks in January this year, which is down from the December figure of 19.2 weeks.
Gwent’s Aneurin Bevan University Health Board’s waiting times were better than the Welsh average, of 21.4 weeks, in January, and it was the best-performing of Wales’ seven health boards, other than Powys which had only a 7.4 week wait. But, as there is no district general hospital in Powys, it is unable to provide many treatments.
The median figure is the middle wait when all waits are ordered from shortest to longest, so half of all waits last within this time. It is used in preference to a simple average wait time as it is less susceptible to extremes.
In the January of 2020, before the pandemic struck, the median figure for the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board was 9.9 weeks, but by April that year, after work was put on hold to treat patients with Covid, and in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, the figure had shot up to 13.9 weeks, and 17.2 a month later.
Median waits in Gwent peaked at 27.2 weeks in September 2020 but, apart from May 2022 when waits dropped to 17.6 weeks, have remained at, at least 18 weeks since.
From a median wait of 18 weeks in October last year the figure has crept up by month reaching 19.2 in December, before slightly reducing in January.
In October the Welsh average was 21.6 weeks, and that reduced in November to 21.2 weeks. In December it hit 22 weeks before falling again in January to 21.4 weeks.
The longest waits in Wales, in January, were 28 weeks in the Cwm Taf Morgannwg board that covers the South Wales Valleys, including Bridgend, while the Cardiff and Vale figure was 21.3 weeks.
The NHS Wales target is that 95 per cent of patients are treated within 26 weeks of referral. The time spent waiting includes any hospital appointments, tests, scans or other procedures needed before treatment.
For the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board 60.9 per cent of patients in January 2023 were waiting up to 26 weeks to start treatment, with 11.8 per cent waiting from 26 to 36 weeks and 27.3 per cent waiting more than 36 weeks.
Across Wales 55.7 per cent of patients in January were waiting up to 26 weeks, 11 per cent between 26 and 36 weeks and 33.3 per cent more than 36 weeks which had dropped from 33.7 per cent in December.
Again, those figures have significantly increased since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic.
In March 2020 the percentage of Anuerin Bevan patients waiting up to 26 weeks was 86.8, with 11.3 waiting up to 36 weeks and just 1.9 per cent waiting more than that.
However, by the following month those seen within 26 weeks fell to 79.3 per cent and the percentage of those facing longer waits increased to 15.4 and 5.3 per cent respectively.
The percentage of patients waiting more than 36 weeks peaked at 39.9 in November 2020.
The latest figures are a slight improvement on December when 60.3 per cent of patients, across Wales, were waiting 26 weeks or less, and 27.7 per cent waiting more than 36 weeks.