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Waiting lists in Wales see small rise again

21 Sep 2023

New data published today shows that the waiting list for referral to treatment in Wales has risen again, with the figure for July 2023 sitting at 757,355.

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.  
Today’s data shows 231,177 waiting nine months or more for treatment. The longest waits are for trauma and orthopaedic treatment, 99,343; general surgery, 87,864; ENT, 60,550; and urology, 42,531.   
Responding to the figures, Professor Jon Barry, Director in Wales at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: 
“The summer months were marked with intense pressure for the health service in Wales, instead of being traditionally ‘quieter’.  The Welsh Government has promised to tackle waiting lists.  So as winter approaches, we are urging them and our health bodies to focus on filling vacancies, retaining staff, and improving the work environment within our NHS.

“Healthcare staff continue to work incredibly hard to get patients seen and treated quickly - but the concern turns to making sure we retain these staff too.  Chronic workforce shortages are hampering the slow recovery of waiting lists. Surgery requires a team. Even if we have a surgeon available to operate, often we cannot go ahead because other members of the team, such as theatre nurses and anaesthetists, are not available.
“The longer a patient is on the waiting list, the greater the chance their condition will deteriorate, and they will need more complex treatment. These patients will also very likely be suffering from significant pain and discomfort. In some cases, they will not be able to carry out day-to-day tasks or go to work. They will also be worrying about when they might get their treatment.” 

Notes to editors  
1. Full, historical Stats Wales Referral to Treatment Waiting Times can be found here:  
2. Analysis from the Welsh Government can be found here: 
3. 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. See more information here.  
4. The Welsh Government’s plan to address long waiting lists was published in April 2022 and is detailed here;  
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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