The number of outpatients in Wales who are having to wait for their first hospital appointment is on the increase, according to new figures.
Last month, those waiting more than 10 weeks for an outpatient appointment at hospital rose by 2,688, and people waiting between 10 and 22 weeks increased by 84%.
Also on the rise was the number of people waiting more than 14 weeks to be admitted as inpatients or as day cases, which had increased by 432.
The figures have been slammed by opposition parties – who have demanded an explanation for the sharp increase.
Conservative Health Minister Andrew RT Davies said: "These figures are very disappointing. The minister needs to explain why with the waiting time figures dropping so low earlier this year now, just months later, the numbers waiting are spiralling?"
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Peter Black said progress made in reducing waiting times earlier in the year was now in danger of being wiped out, adding that the surge in outpatients was "shocking".
An Assembly Government spokeswoman said: "We are currently working towards our target that by the end of 2009, no patient will wait more than 26 weeks from primary care referral to treatment, including waiting for specified diagnostic tests and therapies."