Mark Drakeford was told that Wales’ treatment waiting list – the longest in Britain – won’t be significantly addressed as long as the maintenance backlog for Labour-run NHS buildings stands.
In FMQs, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies MS highlighted a recent report from North Wales’ beleaguered Betsi Cadwaladr health board which shows only 62% of its buildings are "operationally safe,” compared to a Wales-wide average of 72%, also below the 90% target.
The NHS treatment waiting list in Wales stands at a quarter of the Welsh population (24%), with the number of people waiting over two years for treatment now at 49,594, despite such waits being virtually eliminated in England and Scotland.
Commenting afterwards, Leader of the Opposition Andrew RT Davies MS said:
“I think the First Minister responded appallingly to my questions where I raised the very real concerns about the safety of NHS buildings – there was no apology for letting a majority of hospitals falling into disrepair, putting people at risk.
“Does he really expect vulnerable patients and burned out staff to spend day after day in these unsafe locations when they also have to contend with record-long waiting times and horrible working conditions?
“It goes to show too just how expendable North Wales is to the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay – conditions here are far worse than across Wales yet they are brushed aside by arrogance and hubris, something I am certain residents will remember.”
The health board said it costs £73m every year to run its properties, but predicts more than £348m needs to be spent to bring those buildings up to an acceptable level. At Abergele Hospital, only 15% of the building meets health and safety standards.
It follows Welsh Conservative research released earlier this year that found the cost of the maintenance backlog facing Wales’ NHS has spiralled to £950m, up from £571.1m the year before and more than three times the figure for 2017/18, which stood at £307.2m.
Also, in November, 1-in-4 Welsh patients waited over a year for treatment, but only 1-in-20 do so in England. Meanwhile, the median waiting time for that same month in Wales was 21.2 weeks compared to 13.6 in England.