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Surgeons warn of year-round pressure facing the NHS in Wales

21 Jul 2022

Surgeons have warned of year-round pressure facing the health system in Wales, as waiting lists hit a record 722,147.

The Stats Wales data published today show 722,147 ‘patient pathways’ in May 2022. The ‘patient pathway’ data 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

The data show there were 260,859 waiting nine months or more for treatment, which is an increase – of 2670 – on the previous month. The longest waits are for trauma and orthopaedic treatment [98,903], general surgery [89,256], ENT [61,209] and urology [42,868].

Commenting on the figures, Professor Jon Barry, interim Director for Wales at The Royal College of Surgeons of England, said:

“The NHS in Wales is facing one of its toughest challenges yet. An unprecedented heat wave, ongoing COVID-19 pressures and escalating backlogs paint a grim picture.

“We can no longer be under any illusion that NHS pressures are confined to the winter months. We face year-round pressures so a new approach is needed.  We need to support our surgeons and the NHS’ hard-working staff by increasing surgical provision. Regional surgical hubs, or elective centres, must be rolled out across Health Board boundaries in Wales to improve the pace of recovery. We urge the Welsh Government to separate planned care from urgent and emergency care. If they fail to do so, patients will continue to suffer.”

Notes to editors

  1. Full, historical Stats Wales Referral to Treatment Waiting Times can be found here.
  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 a number of 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.
  3. 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.
  4. For more information, please contact the Press Office:

Telephone: 020 7869 6054/6052


             Out-of-hours media enquiries: 0207 869 6056.

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