Just days after Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Rhodri Glyn Thomas expressed concern at physiotherapist staffing levels at the acute stroke unit at Glangwili Hosptial new figures have highlighted the extent of the crisis in west Wales.
The Welsh Government target for patients to start physiotherapy treatment is 14 weeks. But the latest available data, published on Thursday 14th January, reveals that patients in Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB) account for more than half of all Welsh adults waiting more than the 14 week target.
One year ago just 21 adults in Hywel Dda were waiting more than 14 weeks – equivalent to 0.7% of the health board's waiting list for adult physiotherapy, and just 3.2% of the waiting list across the whole of Wales.
Today, however, 1,008 patients are waiting more than 14 weeks – equivalent to 21% of the health board's waiting list and 55.3% of all adults waiting across Wales.
Glangwili Hosptial, Carmarthen is the worst performing hospital for adult physiotherpay with a staggering 39% of patients waiting longer than 14 weeks for treatment.
In response to concerns raised by Rhodri Glyn Thomas Hywel Dda UHB Director of Operations, Joe Teape, accepted there was a need to "strengthen staffing levels" at Glangwili and pointed to a "national shortage of qualified physiotherapists" and that recruitment of staff was a "challenge".
These comments have been questioned by former Plaid Cymru MP and Assembly candidate, Adam Price, who said Welsh Government data does not indicate a problem in most of Wales's health boards.
Calling for greater support from the Health Minister, Adam Price said:
"Four of the 7 health boards in Wales have between 0-10 adults waiting more than 14 weeks to start physiotherapy treatment. That figure is 1,008 in Hywel Dda – up from just 21 people a year ago. Of all adults across the country waiting more than 14 weeks to start physiotherapy over half of them are waiting in west Wales.
"With figures as startling as that, it's difficult to accept that what's happening in our local hospitals is the consequence of a national problem.
"If the health board believes there is indeed a national problem then there is clearly a pressing need for the Health Minister to accept responsibility and arrive at an urgent solution.
"Physiotherapy is an important treatment for patients suffering from a whole host of issues. Whether it's those recovering from a stroke or orthopaedic surgery, to those who may have simply broken a bone, rehabilitation through physiotherapy can often be vital, and unnecessary delays can make recovery longer, more painful and more difficult.
"With such a rapid increase in waiting times over the last year it is imperative the health board is given all the tools and resources it needs to get to grips with this crisis in adult physiotherapy.
"It's simply not good enough, as we have seen this week, for the Health Minister to wash his hands of Hywel Dda. He needs to step up immediately."