Official statistics produced for the Welsh Assembly Government show that the NHS has met a key target that no patient who has been referred to a consultant should wait more than 22 weeks to be seen.
The figures show that the total number of people in Wales waiting for a first appointment with a consultant – including those waiting for mental health specialists – fell from 5,565 at the end of February to none at the end of March.
This meets the Welsh Assembly Government’s waiting list target that by the end of March 2008 nobody should be waiting for admission as an in-patient or day case, or for a first outpatient appointment for over 22 weeks.
A spokesman for NHS Wales said: “This time last year there were 21,500 people waiting more than 22 weeks to see a consultant, and 10,000 waiting over 22 weeks to be treated.
“Figures reported to Ministers (this week) show only five patients waited more than 22 weeks to receive their treatment.”
Health Minister Edwina Hart said: “I understand that the five patients waiting for an operation at the end of March received their treatment in early April.
“NHS staff have worked tirelessly over the last year to meet the Welsh Assembly Government’s challenging waiting times targets.
“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.
“Now, of course, the NHS will be working towards our next milestone by the end of March 2009, when no patients wait more than 10 weeks for a first appointment to see a consultant, followed by a maximum of 14 weeks to receive treatment.
“This will be further reduced by the end of 2009, when no patients will wait more than 26 weeks from primary care referral to treatment, including any waiting for diagnostic tests.”
To read or download latest statistics on NHS Wales waiting times, click here.