The number of patients waiting for more than a year for surgical treatment on the NHS in Wales has rocketed more than 400 percent in four years.
A Freedom of Information request by the The Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has revealed that 3,605 patients had been waiting more than 52 weeks for surgery in March 2017 compared to 699 in March 2013.
The number is also high compared to England, where 1,302 patients waited longer than a year for treatment in March this year.
While progress has been made on reducing 26-week and 36-week waits for surgical treatments in recent years, “overall waits are still too long and the very steep increase in the number of patients waiting longer than a year for treatment is very worrying,” said Mr Tim Havard, regional director for Wales at the Royal College of Surgeons and a consultant general surgeon.
The College is calling on NHS Wales and the Welsh Government to give renewed focus to developing a strategy that significantly reduces long waiting times.
“In particular, we’d like to see better provision of out-of-hospital services and more protection of beds used for planned surgery,” Mr Harvard noted.
“The Welsh health service is facing a raft of pressures, with hospital wards being filled with patients that should be treated in the community and a continued squeeze on finances. Improving the availability of community beds, primary care, and caring for people in their own home would significantly reduce unnecessary and prolonged hospital admissions.”