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Continued waiting list falls a welcome relief for Welsh patients and surgeons

23 Feb 2023


The Royal College of Surgeons of England has welcomed a continued fall in total waiting times in Wales, now three months in a row. New figures show NHS waiting lists in Wales decreased to 735,139 in December 2022, a decline of over 13,000.


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 248,111 waiting nine months or more for treatment, which is a decrease for a second month in a row. The longest waits are for trauma and orthopaedic treatment, 100,102 (a monthly decrease), general surgery, 92,119 (a monthly decrease), ENT, 59,455 (a monthly decrease) and urology, 44,828 (monthly increase).


Welsh Health Minister, Eluned Morgan, also announced the development of a new diagnostics and treatment centre for the South East Wales region, located in Llantrisant, Rhondda Cynon Taf earlier in February.


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


“The continued fall in numbers waiting in Wales is good news for patients and surgeons alike. It is testament to the incredible efforts colleagues across the health service in Wales have been putting in, in incredibly difficult circumstances. 


“We are yet to see the full impact of winter pressures and industrial action on waiting times but I am hopeful that the high we reached in November is now in terminal decline. 


“These small drops are however exactly that, small drops on a huge backlog. The Welsh Government will miss their own target to eliminate the number of people waiting longer than two years in most specialities by March 2023 that they announced last year in the recovery plan3. We know that long waits contribute to worsening mental health, other health problems and greater costs to the NHS and the Welsh economy overall.


“The recent announcement of a new regional NHS facility in South East Wales is welcome news. The RCS England has long advocated for regional surgical hubs to help reduce the backlog and we see the creation of this centre as a step towards that model.”




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. See more information here.
  3. In April 2022, the Welsh Government published the WG Recovery Plan with a focus on addressing the waiting lists that had built up during the pandemic when the focus was on tackling COVID-19. It set out the plans on how the health service would recover, reset, and transform planned care services.
  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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