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Waiting list backlog must be a priority for new Welsh Government

20 May 2021

Statistics published today show the longest ever waiting list in Wales, since records began in 2011. More than 568,367 patients were waiting for planned treatment in March 2021, including surgeries such as hip and knee replacements, post-mastectomy breast reconstructions and ear, nose and throat operations. 
The figures also show over 216,418 patients had waited more than nine months for their treatment, highlighting the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Figures for the same time last year for March 2020 showed 28,294 people in Wales waiting more than nine months treatment. 
The Royal College of Surgeons of England published their Action Plan for surgery in Wales in March which outlines nine key recommendations for the recovery of surgical services in Wales which we are urging the new Welsh Government to implement.

Mr Richard Johnson, Director in Wales of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said:
“Unfortunately, we’ve become accustomed to seeing record breaking numbers for the number of people waiting for treatment. It is important not to forget that behind these statistics are ordinary people waiting in pain and suffering for an operation.  
“NHS Wales was already under pressure prior to the pandemic. The waiting list backlog must be a priority for the new Health Minister and Welsh Government and we would urge them to implement the recommendations in our Action Plan for the Recovery of Surgical Services. We have been calling on Welsh Government and NHS Wales to implement Covid ‘light’ sites or the ‘surgical hub’ model across Wales, to help reduce elective waiting times and ensure surgical patients can be treated safely. This is the best way we can keep treating people who need operations, regardless of future pandemics and winter pressures.  However, it requires being open to doing things differently.
“Over the last year, we’ve seen the NHS in Wales pull together to serve patients, and it will continue to do so to meet this challenge. Although we welcome the additional funding announced, we won’t be able to deal with the backlog overnight. It will take many years to achieve, and we need to see sustained investment to increase overall capacity. Furthermore, significant changes will be required to how we deliver services in Wales.”



Notes to editors

1. The Stats Wales Referral to Treatment [RTT] figures are published here: 
2. The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance patient care. We support over 25,000 members in the UK and internationally by improving their skills and knowledge, facilitating research and developing policy and guidance. 
3. For more information, please contact the Press Office: Tel. 0207 869 6052; email: For out-of-hours media enquiries, please telephone: 0207 869 6056.

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