Welsh Government Admits “long standing capacity issue for endoscopy” in North Wales

Following concerns having been raised by Janet Finch-Saunders, Assembly Member for Aberconwy, about the number of patients waiting over 24 weeks for diagnostic endoscopy services at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, and as the waiting times become increasingly worse, Vaughan Gething AM, Minister for Health and Social Services, has admitted to her that there is a “long standing capacity issue” and that “the volumes of activity being undertaken remain insufficient to deliver against all the required areas”.

 

Janet said:

 

“Last month, I spoke out about the fact that the waiting time data for diagnostic endoscopy services at our North Wales health board showed a 4 year high in waiting times last December.

 

“In response to my question about that situation, the Minister has admitted that there is a long standing capacity issue for endoscopy, and that the volumes of activity being undertaken remains insufficient to deliver against all the required areas.

 

“Whilst I understand that the health board has decided to clinically prioritise capacity until this month so to manage cancer and surveillance patients, the situation has deteriorated further.

 

“The most recent data, for January 2019, has revealed that the number of number of patients waiting over 24 weeks for diagnostic endoscopy services climbed from 167 to 210. 

 

“The severity of the situation is clear when considering that four welsh health boards had no patients waiting over 24 weeks, and that the worst performing after Betsi Cadwaladr, was Cardiff and Vale, which had 8.

 

“Clearly, we are facing a service crisis here in North Wales.

 

“I have now responded to the Minister asking for an explanation as to how he is ensuring that the health board is increasing core capacity levels and implementing solutions going forward.  Indeed, it is unacceptable that patients are having to wait longer for diagnosis just because they live in North Wales”.  

 

ENDS

 

Written Assembly Question:

 

Janet:

 

Will the Minister explain why the Welsh Government’s £1million investment in improving endoscopy and colonoscopy facilities at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has not resulted in improvement of the number of patients waiting over 24 weeks for diagnostic endoscopy services, and clarify what steps you will take to address this?

 

Response by Vaughan Gething AM, Minister for Health and Social Services:

 

Despite the additional investment in endoscopy services in Betsi Cadwaladr UHB, there is a long standing capacity issue for endoscopy, primarily at the Wrexham Maelor site due to the fact the health board lost the use of the endoscopy suites in Wrexham and have had to invest in a modular build, with support from Welsh Government.

 

During this financial year, the health board has tried to allocate sufficient capacity to ensure everyone waiting for a diagnostic endoscopy is seen within an appropriate timescale.

 

Even with this additional activity as outlined in the health board papers in January 2019, the volumes of activity being undertaken remain insufficient to deliver against all the required areas and the health board has therefore made a decision to clinically prioritise capacity to March 2019 to manage the cancer and surveillance patients, reducing the clinical risk accordingly. 

 

The health board has been challenged to further increase core capacity levels and additional solutions to year end and beyond and we have initiated Delivery Unit support to help them determine an accurate capacity and demand understanding to meet recurrent demands in future, whilst optimising existing capacity.

 

Latest response by Janet:

 

Further to WAQ77946 and the increase in the number of patients waiting over 24 weeks for diagnostic endoscopy services to 210 in January, will he explain how he is ensuring that the health board is increasing core capacity levels and implementing solutions?

 

 

Notes:

 

“Diagnostic Endoscopy Dilemma in North Wales”

 

Waiting times by month

Improved service for Endoscopy patients at Ysbyty Gwynedd