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Royal College of Surgeons welcomes large reduction in patients waiting nine months or more in Wales

22 Feb 2019

Royal College of Surgeons analysis of the latest waiting times data for Wales published today, shows 9,000 fewer instances of people waiting longer than nine months to start treatment at the end of 2018 compared to 2017– a reduction of 41%.

There were 12,982 instances of patients waiting longer than nine months (36 weeks) to start treatment in December 2018. This compares with 22,003 patients in December 2017. The overall size of the waiting list remained stable. 

In addition:

Trauma & Orthopaedics has shown an improvement in the numbers of patients waiting the longest although progress was slower than the reduction across the overall waiting list.  There has been a reduction of greater than 25% in the number of patients waiting more than 36 weeks for treatment (6,777 waiting more than 36 weeks in December 2018 compared to 9,233 in December 2017).  

General Surgery also saw a marked reduction in numbers of patients waiting for treatment in December 2018 compared to the same time last year.  There was a reduction of over 40% in numbers of those waiting the longest (1188 in December 2018 compared to 2079 in December 2017) 

Commenting on the data, Mr Tim Havard, Director for the Royal College of Surgeons in Wales and consultant general surgeon said: 

“The hard work of NHS staff and additional investment from Welsh Government has resulted in a significant reduction in the numbers of patients waiting more than 36 weeks. We welcome the progress that has been made in reducing the number of ‘long waiters’. 

"We must continue to focus on reducing waiting times for patients in Wales, particularly when the health service continues to face significant challenges.  Hospital wards are still being filled with patients that should be treated in the community and finances remain tight, despite additional investment.

"Long waits for surgery can be traumatising for patients and their families. A patient's condition can also deteriorate the longer they are made to wait for treatment, meaning the eventual outcomes are not as good as they could have been.

"Improving the availability of community beds, primary care, and caring for people in their own home would significantly reduce unnecessary and prolonged hospital admissions.

"While the year on year improvement in numbers of patients waiting the longest to start treatment is to be welcomed, we encourage Welsh Government and Health Boards not to let up in their focus on reducing the backlog of patients waiting for surgery in Wales.”


Notes to editors

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance surgical standards and improve patient care.

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