Alarm has been raised by Plaid Cymru politicians as new figures released by the Welsh Government show a growing crisis for ophthalmology appointments within the Hywel Dda Health Board area.

The figures, released this month, show one in two high-risk ophthalmology patients across the Hywel Dda area are at risk of ‘irreversible harm or significant adverse outcome’ as a result of the target time being missed for their first outpatient appointment.

As of May, 50.3 per cent of patients across the health board area deemed ‘Health Risk Factor R1’ were waiting beyond the target date for an outpatient appointment - amounting to almost 8,000 patients across Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

Across Wales, 52.5 per cent of patients deemed ‘Health Risk Factor R1’ were waiting beyond the target date for an outpatient appointment - an increase of 1,300 from the previous month.

Responding to the alarming figures, Cefin Campbell, Plaid Cymru MS for Mid and West Wales said: “These figures reflect a growing trend I am seeing in my inbox – with more and more constituents contacting me to express their grave frustration and concern regarding the state of ophthalmology provision in mid and west Wales.

“It’s increasingly clear that ophthalmology services have been unable to recover from the pandemic, and concerningly this could have devastating impact on too many patients.

“It’s simply not good enough that more than one in two patients are at risk of irreversible sight loss because Welsh Government can’t get a grip on waiting times.”

In response to the latest figures, Plaid Cymru is calling for Welsh Government to put a plan in place to ensure the most urgent eye care patients are seen within acceptable timescales.

Mabon ap Gwynfor MS, Plaid Cymru spokesperson for health and social care added: “To show they are serious about eye care in Wales, we must see a plan from the Welsh Government on how they intend to expediate the most urgent cases on these waiting lists.

“In addition, Welsh Government need to put steps in place to ensure targets are driving the right behaviour, that targets are effectively monitored, that health boards have the resource to be able to deliver to target, and that remedial action is taken as soon as possible to look after the patients that have been let down by the system.

“This needs to include a deep dive into the measures, and the current processes, that are currently failing more than half of the highest risk eye care patients in Wales.”