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Surgeons respond to latest NHS hospital waiting lists data for Wales

21 Mar 2024

New data published today (21 March) shows that the waiting list for referral to treatment in Wales has seen another small decrease, with the figure for January 2024 sitting at just over 755,400, down from over 756,300 in December 2023.  

The ‘patient pathway’ data released by Stats Wales covers the time a patient waits from their referral to hospital for treatment. The data includes time spent waiting for any hospital appointments, tests, surgery, scans, or other procedures.

There were just over 23,400 pathways waiting more than two years. There were also around 138,000 waiting more than one year in January 2024. The longest waits are for trauma and orthopaedic treatment, 98,334; general surgery, 83,787; ENT, 59,105; and urology, 42,983.
Responding to the figures, Professor Jon Barry, Director in Wales at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said:
“Waiting lists have seen a very small fall for the third consecutive month. However, there’s a very long way to go to get lists back to an acceptable level – especially at the current rate.
“We are particularly concerned about patients waiting more than one and even two years for treatment. They will be suffering huge disruption to their lives and there is a risk that their condition will deteriorate while they wait.
“The government in Wales needs to up the pace of investment in both staff, and in surgical hubs, to see waiting lists improve at the rate that is needed.”
Notes to editors:
1. There were 755,433 patient pathways waiting to start treatment at the end of January 2024. There were 756,333 patient pathways waiting to start treatment at the end of December 2023.
2. Full, historical Stats Wales Referral to Treatment Waiting Times can be found here:
3. Data for patients waiting over one and two years to start treatment is drawn from the Welsh Government’s NHS activity and performance summary: January and February 2024: 
4. 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 says 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. 
5. 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.
6. For more information, please contact the RCS England press office: telephone: 020 7869 6053/6054/6047; email:; out-of-hours media enquiries: 0207 869 6056.

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