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Waiting lists continue to fall in Wales

20 Apr 2023

The Royal College of Surgeons of England has welcomed a continued fall in total waiting times in Wales, now five months in a row. New figures show NHS waiting lists in Wales decreased to 731,102 in February 2023.


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 237,016 waiting nine months or more for treatment, which is a decrease for a fifth month in a row. The longest waits are for trauma and orthopaedic treatment, 97,510 (a monthly decrease), general surgery, 89,776 (a monthly decrease), ENT, 59,888 (a monthly increase) and urology, 44,626 (a monthly decrease).

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


“It is pleasing to see a continued downward trend in most waiting lists in Wales, testament once again to the supreme efforts from all in the Welsh health service. 


"However, we know that the ambitious targets set by the Welsh Government continue to be missed. The post-pandemic recovery target that no-one should wait more than a year for an outpatient appointment continues to remain out of reach.  Also, the aim to eliminate two-year waits in most specialties by March 2023, is unlikely to be met despite the huge strides we are making. 


"Our services remain under pressure and need support. It has been a year since the Welsh Government launched their plan to end long waiting times and transform planned care. Whilst that and the investment with it was welcome, it cannot be a one off. It needs to be reviewed and in areas reacted to.

"Bringing down waiting times will need a long-term approach and delivery of the recently launched workforce plan will be key. We have a fantastic workforce in Wales, but they are stretched and often burnt out. We need to ensure they are supported and have the resources and the environments to work in that enable them to deliver and meet the targets the Welsh Government has set."




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 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 Governments plan to address long waiting list was published in April 22 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 6047/6052 


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

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