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Surgeons warn ‘no time for complacency’ as NHS Wales waiting times jump again

22 Jun 2023


Surgeons have urged that there is ‘no time to lose’ after newly released data showed NHS waiting lists in Wales jumped again to 743,339 in April 2023.


Responding to the figures, Professor Jon Barry, Director in Wales at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: 


“I am incredibly disappointed to see a further increase in waiting times for April. The downward trend we had been on was welcome, and issues such as the late Easter may have impacted these figures, but this jump of almost 9,000 should be considered a wake-up call. We cannot be complacent and to achieve considerable progress, we require a long-term, sustained approach from government, with appropriate resources and investment.”


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.2


Today’s data show there were 232,313 waiting nine months or more for treatment, again a return to an upward trend. The longest waits are for trauma and orthopaedic treatment, 97,755 (a monthly increase), general surgery, 89,867 (a monthly increase), ENT, 59,565 (a monthly decrease) and urology, 44,744 (a monthly decrease).


The Royal College of Surgeons of England has long campaigned for innovations including surgical hubs to be harnessed to improve healthcare and help tackle the record NHS waiting lists.


“I welcome the work on surgical hubs across Wales that is now underway, and these latest figures show how urgently we need these resources. The figures released today are incredibly disappointing for all concerned, not least Welsh patients. The waiting list is 62% higher than in March 2020 and shows the wider impact COVID-19 has had on the health system in Wales,” Professor Barry said.


“Waiting figures are often hit by the Easter holiday and I hope this month is an anomaly. I know how hard the workforce in Wales is working and I am encouraged by those I meet who are involved in delivering care and health improvements.”


Professor Barry urged the government to “deliver progress with the workforce plan, which will help eliminate waits and tackle chronic staff shortages.”


The latest figures show that we have no time to lose, he added.


 Notes to editors:
1. Full, historical Stats Wales Referral to Treatment Waiting Times can be found here: Analysis from Welsh Government can be found here; NHS activity and performance summary: April and May 2023 | GOV.WALES
2. 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 say 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
3. The Welsh Government’s plan to address long waiting lists was published in April 2022 and is detailed here; 
4. 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.  

5. For more information, please contact the Press Office: Telephone: 020 7869 6053/6054/6047; Email:; Out-of-hours media enquiries: 0207 869 6056.



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