Patients waiting for treatment have risen again in Wales, with cancer treatment performance decreasing along with a fall in hitting emergency department targets and ambulance response times.

The figures, which include less than half of the most serious ambulance calls reaching patients within eight minutes, and just 53.4 per cent of cancer patients beginning treatment within the 62-day target have been described as “abysmal.”

With nearly one in five of Welsh people now on treatment waiting lists, Health Minister Eluned Morgan said that while it was “disappointing to see the overall waiting list increase in size after three consecutive falls, but this is not surprising as we saw strike action in February.”

Dwyfor Meirionnydd MS and Plaid Cymru Health spokesperson Mabon ap Gwynfor said: “On every measure, the NHS in Wales is going backwards under Labour.

“Over half of the most urgent calls to emergency responders were not answered within the target time, nearly one in five of the population are now on waiting lists, and more cancer patients are waiting longer to start their first definitive treatment.

“Make no mistake, the Labour Government cannot be trusted with our NHS.”

Sam Rowlands, Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister said: “This abysmal set of statistics show why the Labour Welsh Government need to be held accountable for their performance running our Welsh NHS.

“Unlike in Conservative-run England, where waiting lists are being cut, the Labour Government have presided over yet another increase to the detriment of Welsh patients.

“The Welsh Conservatives want to see our Welsh NHS fully resourced with the entire Barnett uplift for health and a substantial workforce boosting plan implemented to tackle these excessive waits for treatment.”

Eluned Morgan said: “There is still a lot of work to do to improve waiting times and NHS performance.

“We must focus on improving productivity and efficiency in the NHS – some health boards need to do better.

“This is an area my officials and the NHS Executive will be focusing on.

“I also want to improve access to information for the public so they can scrutinise the performance of their local health board.

“Demand on emergency services continues to be significant.

“The number of immediately life-threatening calls to the ambulance service in March was the joint fourth highest on record.

“Attendances at emergency departments were the highest on record for March and admissions to hospital from emergency departments also increased by 10 per cent.”