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Surgeons – there’s still a long way to go to bring down waiting lists in Wales

23 May 2024

New data published today (23 May) shows that the waiting list for referral to consultant-led treatment in Wales has seen another increase, with the figure for March 2024 sitting at 768,899, up from 762,522 in February 2024.  

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 there are 20,600 pathways waiting more than two years, roughly 10% lower than last month. There were also around 143,700 waiting more than one year in March 2024. The longest waits are for trauma and orthopaedic treatment, 99,474; general surgery; 83,138; ENT, 60,420; and urology, 42,936. 
Responding to the figures, Professor Jon Barry, Director in Wales at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said:  
“Despite efforts from staff to clear the backlog, there remains a long way to go to get waits back on an acceptable footing. In the meanwhile, patients continue to have their lives put on hold and we are particularly concerned about patients waiting for more than a year for treatment.  

"With a general election called, all political parties need to set out how they will help patients in Wales get the care they need sooner.  We need significant additional investment in our hospitals and staff, including surgical hubs, if we’re to increase the capacity necessary to see true improvement in waiting times.” 

Notes to editors

1. There were 768,899 patient pathways waiting to start treatment at the end of March 2024. There were 762,522 patient pathways waiting to start treatment at the end of February 2024.  
2. Full, historical Stats Wales Referral to Treatment Waiting Times can be found here:  
3. Data for patients waiting over one and two years to start treatment is drawn from the Welsh Government’s NHS activity and performance summary: March and April 2024: 
4. 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.  
6. 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.  
7. 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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