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Health is a devolved policy area in Wales, and the Welsh NHS differs in many regards from the NHS in other parts of the UK, in terms of structure, policy and performance. This briefing paper looks at statistics, key trends, and, where possible, comparison with other parts of the UK, in the following areas of the NHS in Wales:

Accident & Emergency

The NHS in Wales has a target that 95% of patients should spend less than four hours in A&E from arrival to admission, transfer or discharge. For 2015, 79.4% of patients waited under four hours.

Ambulance Performance

The target that 65% of red calls should have an ambulance on the scene within 8 minutes has been met for each month since the new classification system was introduced in October 2015.

Hospital Activity

The number of consultant episodes involving admission to hospital has risen by 8% since 2005/06, whilst overall population has grown by 4% over the same period.

Referral to Treatment Waiting Times

In December 2015, 83.5% of patients referred to treatment had been waiting for less than 26 weeks. The 95% target for this measure has not been met since August 2010.

Diagnostic Waiting Times

A higher proportion of Welsh patients than English patients wait more than 8 weeks for selected diagnostic tests such as MRI, CT scans and non-obstetric ultrasounds.

Cancer Waiting Times

NHS Wales’ cancer waiting target states that 95% of patients diagnosed with cancer via the urgent route should start treatment within 62 days. The highest performing Local Health Board for the quarter ending December 2015 was Aneurin Bevan (South East Wales), with a score of 92.3%.


In terms of number of GPs per head of population, Wales has a similar number to England and Northern Ireland, but fewer than Scotland.

Delayed Transfers of Care

Total delayed transfers fell by 6% in 2015 compared to the year before, but delayed transfers caused due to issues with healthcare arrangements rose by 60% over the same period.

Bed Occupancy

NHS bed occupancy has risen steadily over the past few decades, and was recorded at 86.7% for 2014/15.


Health expenditure per head in Wales for 2013/14 was the lowest of the four UK nations at £1,992, although England was only slightly higher at £1,994 per head. Health expenditure per head in Wales has fallen by 6% in real terms since 2009/10.

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