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Strong direction from Welsh Government needed to tackle spiralling waiting time figures in Wales

17 Feb 2022

Leading surgeons in Wales have highlighted the risk of a postcode lottery of care for people waiting for an operation without strong direction from Welsh Government for the recovery of elective surgery.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England’s comments come on the day data shows the number of patients waiting for treatment in Wales has reached a record 683,331.

The Welsh Government data show 683,331 people were waiting for treatment in December 2021. A total of 244,331 patients have been waiting more than 9 months for treatment, which is an increase – of 2,664 – on the previous month. In December 2020, there were 538,861 people on the waiting list and 226,138 of these had been waiting more than 9 months. The largest number of patients waiting are for trauma and orthopaedic surgery [97,706], general surgery [84,698], ENT [56,163] and urology [41,168].

Commenting on the figures, Miss Susan Hill, a vascular surgeon in Wales and acting Director for Wales at The Royal College of Surgeons of England, said:

“Waiting time figures are spiralling in Wales, illustrating the gravity and scale of the backlog. Patients waiting for treatment will continue to be disheartened and distressed at today’s figures.

“Although we welcome that the Welsh Government will publish a plan for the recovery of elective services in Wales in April, this is urgently needed now. We risk putting the cart before the horse without strategic direction from the Welsh Government to Health Boards. There is a risk of a postcode lottery of patient care and inequity of access to surgical services across Wales. We must be able to provide patients with reassurances that their pain will be relieved.”


Notes to editors

1. Full, historical Stats Wales Consultant-led Referral to Treatment Waiting Times can be found here.

2. The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS England) is a professional membership organisation and registered charity. The College provides world-class education, assessment and development to more than 28,000 surgeons, dental professionals and members of the wider surgical and dental care teams, at all stages of their career. The College sets professional standards, facilitates research and champions the best outcomes for patients – with a vision to see excellent surgical care for everyone.

For more information, please contact the RCS Press Office:

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