A new type of CT scanner will be installed at Welsh hospitals in a bid to help cut waiting times for patients to be diagnosed and start treatments.

The news comes as the NHS in Wales reported record pressures, with worst-ever A&E waits and more than 600,000 people on lists to start treatment.

Up to four of the new PET-CT scanners will be installed at hospitals, and will provide "cutting edge diagnostic technology" for cancer, heart and neurological disease at a faster and more reliable rate than current equipment, the Welsh Government said, adding: "They will provide much needed additional capacity to meet demand in the decade ahead. This will in turn help reduce waiting times and be more convenient for patients."

But it is unclear when the new scanners, costing at total of £25million, will be available – their purchase is "subject to business case approval", the government said.

The latest waiting time data, published today, shows the Welsh NHS has hit unwanted new record highs every month this summer.

Last month, just 68.7 per cent of patients spent less than four hours in an A&E department before being admitted, transferred or discharged – well below the 95 per cent target.

And nearly 8,000 people had to wait more than 12 hours. The target says no-one should wait that long.

The performance by the Welsh Ambulance Service with response times to its priority calls was the second worst on record.

Only 57.6 per cent of these immediately life-threatening calls saw teams arrive on the scene within eight minutes and the target of 65 per cent has not been met for over a year.

More than 643,000 people are waiting for treatment to begin – the highest since records began in 2011.

In July 2021, nearly 240,000 patients had been waiting more than 36 weeks, compared with just 25,634 in February 2020.

Across Wales 62 per cent of people started treatment within 62 days of cancer first being suspected. The target is 75 per cent.

The Welsh Government said it had recently invested £240 million to help the NHS recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and cut waiting times.

“Waiting times remain above pre-pandemic levels and ambulance response times continue to be below target levels,” a spokesman said.

“Pressures on our emergency services continue to remain high. There were more emergency ambulance calls in August 2021 than in any other August.

“We have made £25 million funding available to improve delivery of urgent and emergency care services.

“We encourage people to consider the best options for care, and not necessarily head to their local emergency department.”

During a debate in the Senedd on Wednesday, health minister Eluned Morgan rejected calls from the Welsh Conservatives to declare an emergency in the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Shadow health minster Russell George said: “We are seeing both emergency and elective treatment in the NHS reaching its limit right now.

“This is leading to unacceptable waits for patients and intolerable burnout for hard-working staff.

“However, this is not the new normal. Not long before the pandemic, the Labour-run NHS was regularly breaking all the wrong records.

“Among the Covid-related issues affecting public services, there are deep-rooted problems that have not been tackled in the devolution era.”

Darren Hughes, director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, which represents health boards, said staff were working “relentlessly to cope with current levels of demand”.

“Although average waiting times for treatment remain above pre-pandemic levels, we are seeing a downward trend,” he said.

“There’s no doubt that coronavirus continues to have a significant impact on the delivery of health and care services across Wales.

“Rising cases have compounded existing pressures on services, meaning some difficult decisions have had to be made as many services are under more pressure now than they were at the height of the pandemic.

“Staff are doing all they can to continue delivering care for those who need it most and are exhausted after a challenging 18 months.”

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