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Surgeons warning: Wales risks slipping behind without further investment in surgical hubs and staff

19 Aug 2021

The Royal College of Surgeons of England has responded to figures, published today by Stats Wales, that show the number of patients waiting for treatment in Wales has now reached 624,909.  Surgeons have warned of further increases to waiting times without significant and sustained investment in Covid-light surgical hubs and training more surgeons, nurses and anaesthetists. 
The latest data shows there were 624,909 people on the NHS waiting list in June 2021, the highest number since records began. 233,210 patients have been waiting more than 9 months for treatment, an increase on the previous month (227,753). The longest waits are patients waiting for hip and knee replacements, gallbladder removals and hernia operations. Some may be unable to work, or carry out day-to-day tasks while they wait for their operation.
The Royal College of Surgeons of England has warned that a number of pressures are continuing to affect the recovery of surgery in Wales including high demand in A&E departments, delayed discharges of care and staff absences due to isolation and delayed annual leave.  The result is increased waiting times for planned operations in Wales. The College says the solution is further investment in surgical hubs and the staff to support them.  
Mr Richard Johnson, Director for Wales of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: 
“We welcome the funding announced by Welsh Government today for waiting times. However, to restore timely treatment for patients and ensure a more sustainable system, we need a plan that includes significant and sustained investment in base line capacity to establish surgical hubs and the surgical staff needed. Otherwise waiting lists in Wales will continue to grow. This can’t be allowed to happen. We have already seen calls for major investment in both England and Northern Ireland. There is a real risk Wales slips behind. 
“Although summer is traditionally a quieter time, NHS services in Wales are under considerable pressure. This is making it incredibly difficult to get back to pre-pandemic levels of operating. Areas with Covid-light surgical hubs have been able to continue operating through the pandemic, so we need more investment in this model, and in the staff to support it.”

Notes to editors

1. Full, historical Stats Wales Consultant-led Referral to Treatment Waiting Times can be found here: 
2. The College’s Action Plan for the Recovery of Surgical Services in Wales can be viewed here: 
3. The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS England) is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance patient care. We support our national and global membership, providing education, assessment, and development to nearly 30,000 surgeons, dental surgeons and members of the wider surgical and dental teams at all stages of their career; we set professional standards, facilitate research, and champion world-class surgical outcomes for patients. We want to see excellent surgical care for everyone and will achieve of vision by enabling all our members, in all their diversity, to deliver excellence in everything they do. 

4. For more information, please contact the RCS England Press Office: Tel. 0207 869 6052/6047; email: For out-of-hours media enquiries.


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