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Huge clinical effort helps Welsh lists turn a corner

23 Mar 2023

The Royal College of Surgeons of England has welcomed a continued fall in total waiting times in Wales, now four months in a row. New figures show NHS waiting lists in Wales decreased to 734,116 in January  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 244,628 waiting nine months or more for treatment, which is a decrease for a third  month in a row. The longest waits are for trauma and orthopaedic treatment, 98,555 (a monthly decrease), general surgery, 91,094 (a monthly decrease), ENT, 59,432  (a monthly decrease) and urology, 45,225 (monthly increase).


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


“The huge clinical effort that many teams have put in across Wales has helped the waiting lists turn a corner.  

”This month is another where we have seen encouraging signs of continued performance improvement. Waiting lists in the most stubborn treatment areas continue to fall and progress is being made on the time people wait. Although the waiting list figure remains high, the work clinical colleagues have been putting in is now beginning to make a sustained difference.


“I am hopeful that the pension reforms announced in last week's budget will also have an impact on retaining experienced surgeons in the workforce. In recent years many surgeons have been faced with difficult decisions around continuing to work or retiring early. We need these experienced colleagues in the workforce operating and training.


“The modern NHS is one of constant pressure, but we have a chance in Wales to manage this by moving quickly on opportunities as and when they arise. The recent announcement of a Diagnostic and Treatment hub in southeast Wales is a step in the right direction, and we are keen to see this implemented quickly and look for similar approaches elsewhere in Wales.


“However, to truly begin to address this constant pressure we need to address both underlying causes in the population at large and the funding to support the recruitment and retention of staff as outlined in the recent Welsh workforce plan. Pension reforms announced go one step in the direction of retention, but the long-awaited UK workforce plan needs to detail numbers for recruitment and training places.”




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 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.
  4. 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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