A POST-PANDEMIC healthcare reset is needed to combat NHS waiting times and improve patient treatment in Wales, according to a new report.

The Senedd’s health committee outlined a series of recommendations for the Welsh Government to address issues with waiting lists and the situations currently facing patients in Wales.

The committee found that – although waiting times had been hit hard by the pandemic – the backlog was a serious problem before the effect of Covid on the health service.

As of January 2022, there were 688,836 people in Wales waiting to start treatment, an increase of 51 per cent on March 2020, the report found.

This comes just a week after the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales report expressed concerns that inspectors were “not assured” that patients at the Grange University Hospital received “an acceptable standard” of care - with long waits to be treated and staffing raised as key areas of concern.

Members of the committee heard accounts from members of the public on the impact the backlog is having on their lives – with some having to travel abroad for private treatment instead.

The committee heard from minister for health and social care Eluned Morgan, who outlined the following aims for the post-pandemic reset.

  • Stop the waiting lists growing any further.
  • Stabilise and improve cancer performance.
  • Clear the backlog of people who have been waiting a long time.
  • Keep diagnostic waits to around eight weeks, and therapy waits to around 14 weeks.
  • Improve the service for urgent and emergency care.
  • Ensure that the right training and support is in place for the workforce

Other recommendations from the report included increased support for unpaid carers, additional support for family members after a diagnosis, and using alternative primary and community care providers – such as pharmacies – to free up GPs for appointments.

Another recommendation came following a comment from the Royal College of Physicians, which said: “There are not enough staff available to bring down NHS waiting lists.”

The committee have asked for more information on whether reducing the length of training placements could increase the number of people trained without compromising patient safety, and has called for staff numbers, including recruitment from overseas.


Russell George MS, chairman of the Senedd’s Health and Social Care Committee said: “The situation facing those needing treatment and care in Wales is bleak.

“People were already waiting too long before the pandemic and although Covid-19 has undoubtedly made the problem worse, the backlog in the NHS needed tackling and people need support and regular communication while they are waiting.

“The equivalent of one in five people in Wales are currently on a waiting list for diagnosis or treatment. That is a shocking statistic, with serious implications both for the performance of our health service and levels of ill health in Wales.

“Some people may deteriorate and need acute or emergency care. Against a backdrop of rising costs of living, people who are unable to work or whose outgoings have increased as a result of their condition may face increasing financial uncertainty. Others may be unable to undertake their usual caring responsibilities.

“Now is the time for action and not just words. We want to see backlogs being tackled and people on waiting lists being treated with respect and looked after while they are waiting.

“It is time for a post-pandemic reset, which doesn’t aim to return to where we were in March 2020, but instead looks to the future, with a renewed focus on innovation, on genuine and sustainable service transformation, and on prevention and tackling health inequalities, so that no one is left behind.

“Our report today provides a list of recommendations for the Welsh Government to tackle these serious problems facing Welsh patients.”