KEY diagnostic tests and therapies are taking too long to complete for hundreds of patients in Gwent, new figures reveal.

Such tests are a key part of the referral to treatment ‘path’ for many patients, while therapies can be a valuable alternative to surgery.

But waiting times figures for last December, issued by the Welsh government, show health boards across Wales struggle to deliver against guidelines, and Gwent has problems in particular specialties. Diagnostic and therapy services for NHS Wales are no longer subject to formal waiting times, but the maximum amount of time patients should expect to wait for these, are now referred to as operational standards.

Cardiology is a particular problem, with capacity issues and demand among the reasons why, by the end of December, close to 1,000 patients had waited longer than the target eight weeks for heart tests. Of the 974 patients who had waited more than eight weeks, 544 had waited at least twice as long as that, with a handful having waited more than four times as long.

More than 900 Gwent patients had also waited longer than eight weeks for diagnostic endoscopy with again, a handful of patients having four times as long as the eight-week guideline. But capacity for delivering this test is a problem across Wales, and other areas have larger numbers of longer waits than Gwent. More than 2,300 Gwent patients had by December been waiting longer than eight weeks for a radiology test after referral.