Surgeons call on Welsh Government to train and retain staff as waiting lists keep rising
20 Jul 2023
The Royal College of Surgeons of England has reacted with concern to the rise in waiting times in May. New figures show that NHS waiting lists in Wales increased for a third successive month to 748,395.
The ‘patient pathway’ data released by Stats Wales cover the time a patient waits from their referral to hospital for treatment. The data include time spent waiting for any hospital appointments, tests, surgery, scans, or other procedures.
Today’s data show there were 229,724 waiting nine months or more for treatment, which continues a downward trend. The longest waits are for trauma and orthopaedic treatment, 98,636 (a monthly increase); general surgery, 89,235 (a monthly decrease); ENT, 59,462 (a monthly decrease) and urology, 44,127 (a monthly decrease).
Responding to the figures, Professor Jon Barry, Director in Wales at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said:
“In the month that we have celebrated the NHS at 75, I am disappointed to see the waiting list continue to rise. These rises show the amount of work ahead of us to reduce the significant number of patients waiting for too long.
“The Welsh Government is listening to our calls for surgical hubs and improvements to workforce numbers, but these take time to come online. The UK Government’s new NHS Long Term Workforce Plan has promised more doctors and nurses, and while the devil is in the detail, I am hopeful this will benefit Wales in due course. However, we will not see improvements overnight; it will take many years for the increase in trainees to flow through into the workforce.
“Training is incredibly important, and we must invest in our people and infrastructure to train. I was extremely disappointed to hear the news that the Welsh Institute for Minimal Access Therapy (WIMAT) could close. This facility is a jewel in the Welsh training crown, and my surgical colleagues and I are disappointed at this development.
“Training is, however, only part of the issue. Right now, with winter planning underway, the Welsh Government and our health bodies need to focus on filling vacancies, retaining staff, and improving their working environment. The Welsh Government and our health bodies need to work with stakeholders to ensure we are creating a positive work environment to retain experienced staff within the NHS.”
Notes to editors:
- Full, historical Stats Wales Referral to Treatment Waiting Times can be found here: https://statswales.gov.wales/Catalogue/Health-and-Social-Care/NHS-Hospital-Waiting-Times/Referral-to-Treatment/patientpathwayswaitingtostarttreatment-by-month-groupedweeks Analysis from the Welsh Government can be found here: NHS activity and performance summary: May and June 2023.
- In March 2016, Stats Wales changed some of the terminology used in referral to treatment reporting. Previously, when publishing these statistics, they used the terminology patients. However, now, it is possible that a person could be on several different lists waiting for different conditions – i.e., there would be one patient but more than one pathway. Due to the RTT dataset being an aggregate data collection, Stats Wales says they are not able to measure the number of unique patients. Therefore, they are using the terminology ‘patient pathways,’ to reflect the fact that one person can be on multiple waiting lists. See more information here.
The Welsh Government’s plan to address long waiting lists was published in April 2022 and is detailed here: https://www.gov.wales/ambitious-plan-end-long-waiting-times-and-transform-planned-care
- The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS England) provides world-class education, assessment, and development to 30,000 surgeons, dental professionals, and members of the wider surgical and dental care teams, at all stages of their career. Our vision is to see excellent surgical care for everyone. We do this by setting professional standards, facilitating research, and championing the best outcomes for patients.
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