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Number of Welsh patients waiting more than 36 weeks for hospital treatment doubles

20 Feb 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Thursday 20th February, 2020

New figures from NHS Wales show the number of people waiting more than 36 weeks for hospital treatment has almost doubled in the past year.  Surgeons are calling for action to reduce waiting times, and for the Treasury to resolve the NHS pensions ‘tax-trap’.

RCS analysis of waiting time statistics for December 2019, published today, shows that 25,549 patients were waiting over 36 weeks for treatment in December 2019, an increase from 12,982 on the same time the previous year.  Under Welsh Government targets, no patient should wait longer than 36 weeks.

Mr Richard Johnson, RCS Director in Wales and Consultant Breast Surgeon said:

“Today’s figures show Welsh patients are waiting far too long for hospital treatment. The Government’s own targets have been missed again.

“We have welcomed recent announcements from the Welsh Government of extra money to reduce waiting times and to support the NHS in Wales with winter pressures.

“But we need to see consistent action because long waits for surgery are 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.

“We urgently need a solution to the pensions’ tax issue, so that surgeons don’t incur large and unpredictable tax bills for working on waiting list reduction initiatives. We need to see the Chancellor deliver a sustainable solution.”

53% of surgeons in a recent RCS commissioned YouGov survey had been advised not to take part in waiting list initiatives, because of the NHS pensions ‘tax-trap’. While the NHS announced a temporary solution to the problem in November 2019, to apply in England and Wales, this temporary fix is only in place until the end of the current financial year (March 2020). The RCS has therefore called on the Chancellor to commit to a permanent solution in the coming Budget.


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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