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Fall in number waiting for NHS treatment in Wales brings some Christmas cheer

21 Dec 2022

The Royal College of Surgeons of England have welcomed a fall in total waiting times in Wales - the first such fall since before the pandemic. New figures show NHS waiting lists in Wales deceased to 753,291 in October, a decline of 1,386. 

The ‘patient pathway’ data released by Stats Wales cover the time a patient waits from their referral to hospital for treatment. The data include time spent waiting for any hospital appointments, tests, surgery, scans or other procedures.2 
Today’s data show there were 259,988 waiting nine months or more for treatment, which is a decrease for the second month in a row. The longest waits are for trauma and orthopaedic treatment 101,973 (monthly decrease), general surgery 94,672 (monthly increase), ENT 61,144 (monthly decrease), and urology 44,333 (monthly decrease). 
Commenting on the figures, Professor Jon Barry, Director in Wales at The Royal College of Surgeons of England, said:  
“Every month since I took this role with the Royal College of Surgeons of England the overall waiting list figure in Wales has gone up. This is the first decrease we have seen for some time, and it is very welcome news indeed. 
“This fall is testament to the hard work that those in the Welsh NHS have put in in recent months to tackle the waiting times we have here. Let us be clear this is the result of a huge team effort by all of us in the Welsh system.  
“I cannot speak highly enough of all those in our system and these figures will be a welcome boon as we approach Christmas.  
“However, Christmas and the depth of winter means flu season, and future figures will almost certainly remain near record levels.  
“I know my NHS colleagues will not be complacent over this small decrease. Long lists contribute to worsening mental health, other health problems and greater costs to the NHS and the Welsh economy overall. There is still much work to be done.” 

Notes to editors

1. Full, historical Stats Wales Referral to Treatment Waiting Times can be found here: Patient pathways waiting to start treatment by month, grouped weeks and stage of pathway ( 
2. 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 a number of 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 say 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. 
3. The NCSOS project was commissioned by the Welsh Orthopaedic Board on behalf of the NHS chief executive Mr Andrew Goodall and commenced its work in September 2021. The NCSOS team have provided 34 immediate actions for health boards to enact to prevent ongoing patient harm, 155 recommendations to ensure transformation of sub specialty clinical pathways, and a long-term blueprint for the future provision of orthopaedic services. NCSOS Report 4: Use existing estate differently was published recently. Home - Welsh Orthopaedic Society 
4. The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS England) is a professional membership organisation and registered charity. The College provides world-class education, assessment and development to more than 28,000 surgeons, dental professionals and members of the wider surgical and dental care teams, at all stages of their career. The College sets professional standards, facilitates research and champions the best outcomes for patients – with a vision to see excellent surgical care for everyone.  

5. For more information, please contact the Press Office ::

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