PATIENTS in north Wales face “rocketing” hospital waiting times as the health board tackles a “significant backlog” in follow-up appointments.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has apologised to patients experiencing lengthy waits in north Wales hospitals, which it acknowledges can be “distressing and frustrating” for those stuck on waiting lists.
The health board admitted patients are waiting longer for an appointment than they should be.
Shadow health minister and north Wales AM Darren Millar said: “Delays in follow-up appointments are rocketing in north Wales and I fear the same is happening elsewhere.
“A second appointment can be as important as the first.
“Patients’ conditions will often be deteriorating while they wait and in cases such as cancer, heart disease, sight loss and other such health matters, delays could result in devastating and irretrievable outcomes.”
The health board said it is closely monitoring the situation and a number of measures are in place to tackle the issue.
These include checking patients still require appointments and ensuring their details are up to date; working with GPs so that overdue patients are reviewed at doctors surgeries and working with optometrists who can review patients with chronic eye conditions.
All north Wales patients who require a follow up appointment greater than 6 weeks are added to a follow up waiting list.
Patients remain on the list until they can be booked in.
The number of patients overdue a follow up appointment is reported to the health board on a monthly basis.
The health board said the cause of the backlog is mostly down to factors like patients needing to return for numerous appointments, when they could have all diagnostic tests completed in one appointment.
It said the delays are not due to the appointment departments missing them.
A spokesman added: “Front line staff are working together to develop and improve clinical pathways for patients.
“This will ensure that patients who need to be followed up in hospital are able to access their appointment when it is required.”