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Surgeons call for ‘urgent action’ to tackle the NHS waiting list in Wales, as it rises again to a record high

22 Sep 2022

Surgeons have called for ‘urgent action’ to tackle the NHS waiting list in Wales as new figures show it has increased again to a record high of 743,229.

The Stats Wales data published today show 743,229 ‘patient pathways’ in July 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 268,612 waiting nine months or more for treatment, which is an increase – of 4,831 – on the previous month. The longest waits are for trauma and orthopaedic treatment [101,145], general surgery [91,850], ENT [63,129] and urology [43,747], all seeing month on month increases.

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

“A new approach is needed to tackle the enormous NHS waiting list that has built up in Wales.  We urge the Welsh government to establish regional surgical hubs, or elective centres, across Health Board boundaries in Wales. This will help to ensure planned operations continue all year round, by separating planned care from urgent and emergency care.

“It is heartbreaking that despite the best efforts of frontline NHS staff, the NHS waiting list in Wales continues to grow. Patients cannot be left waiting in limbo for months on end, with their lives on hold, while they wait for a hip or knee replacement.  Unfortunately, the pressures in the Welsh NHS are all year round and not just in winter.   This is why we are calling for urgent action to reduce waiting times in Wales, and give patients the timely treatment they deserve.”

The Welsh Government has a target to eliminate the number of people waiting longer than two years in most specialities by March 2023.  These latest figures show that the NHS is unlikely to meet this target.


Notes to editors

  1. Full, historical Stats Wales Referral to Treatment Waiting Times can be found here: Patient pathways waiting to start treatment by month, grouped weeks and stage of pathway (
  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. Patient pathways waiting to start treatment by month, grouped weeks and treatment function, January 2021 onwards (
  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; Email:; out-of-hours media enquiries: 0207 869 6056.



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