The latest Welsh NHS estimates unveiled almost 596,000 individual patients on waiting lists in October 2023, marking the highest figure on record.

Overall waits in the Welsh NHS increased for the eighth consecutive month in October to just below 764,500 patient pathways, up from just over 761,100 in September. 

Of the total pathways, nearly 134,500 were waiting for more than a year. 

The care recovery plan targeted phasing out two-year waits in most specialities by March this year. However, this goal was not achieved, with nearly 25,700 still on more than two year-waits.

In another record, patient pathways waiting rose to just over 120,800 in October for diagnostic services, while it increased to just more than 70,600 for therapies.

The median time waiting to start treatment time in October remained the same as last month at 19.9 weeks.

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A total of 16,535 patient pathways were opened in October after cancer suspicion, up 3.7% from the previous month.

Besides, 14,889 pathways were closed after patients were notified that they were cancer-free. This represents a 6.4% rise from the previous month.

Meanwhile, 4,669 red calls to the ambulance service were recorded in November, with 49.5% of the calls getting an emergency response within eight minutes which was 2.3 percentage points more compared with October.  

Wales Minister for Health and Social Services Eluned Morgan said: “I previously tasked health boards with ensuring 97 per cent of those waiting at the end of December 2023 will be waiting less than 104 weeks.

“We were extremely close to achieving that in October (96.6 per cent) with four health boards already having achieved that target.

“Over the last three years, we have reduced the average wait time for planned care patients by a third, with the median wait now stable at around 20 weeks.

“Demand for emergency care services remains significant, with the ambulance service now dealing with around 80 per cent more red calls daily than they did before the pandemic.

“The average number of daily red calls made in November was the third highest on record. Despite this, 75 per cent of these calls received a response within 13 minutes.

“And we saw an increase from last month in the proportion of red calls being responded to within the eight-minute target.”