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Sunday 5 June 2011

Massive rise in patients waiting nine months and more for surgery (Wales)

REDUCTIONS in operating theatre capacity and an end to overtime and special waiting list payments have seen waiting times for orthopaedic treatment soar.

Almost 4,500 patients are waiting more than nine months for orthopaedic surgery in Wales, new figures show.

The Welsh Conservatives calculated the number of orthopaedic patients waiting more than 36 weeks for surgery has risen by 40,500% since January 2010, from just 11 to 4,466.

The majority of patients – more than 3,100 – are waiting for orthopaedic surgery at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. And almost 1,000 patients in North Wales are waiting for treatment at hospitals run by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

A report to health officials in North Wales said one patient has waited almost a year-and-a- half. A surge in demand also contributed.

Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar said: "This shocking rise plainly shows the serious problem facing orthopaedic waiting times."

"The new Health Minister has said she doesn't want to see waiting times slip. It's too late for that. We need to focus on the drastic slide that's already taken place under Labour."

"An overall increase of 40,500% beggars belief. There must be a reason and we need to find out what it is. The annual operating framework is absolutely clear – if a patient is not seen within 26 weeks, they must be seen within 36."

Former Health Minister Edwina Hart announced a three-year £65m fund to improve orthopaedic waiting times before the election.

She said demand had increased by 30.8% since 2007 and the trend would continue. "This is particularly evident in the need for hip and knee treatments, where the volume of procedures is likely to increase by a further 30% overall and hip fracture trauma by 10% over the next five years. This continuing growth in demand reflects the impact of a number of factors which include; a predicted 29% increase by 2033 in the population of pensionable age, the consequent increase in the number of joint revisions, increasing joint disease and the impact of increasing obesity," she added.

Government officials are drawing up plans to increase orthopaedic capacity and will consider whether there are sufficient operating theatres.

There are concerns in North Wales that the closure of six theatres at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd to remove asbestos, will make waiting times problems worse.

Dr Eamonn Jessup, a GP in Prestatyn, said: "The future is bleak in the central part of North Wales for patients wanting joint replacements."

A Welsh Government spokeswoman last night said: "We are aware of the increase in demand for orthopaedic surgery in Wales, which has seen a rise of approximately 30% in referrals to the orthopaedic service over the last five years. This is twice as much as all other specialities combined."

"Although a large number of patients are seen within the 26-week target, due to the specialist nature of some orthopaedic surgery, and a lack of specialist consultants across the UK, a backlog of cases has built up. This is why a further £65m over the next three years was announced."

Paul Hollard, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board's executive director of planning, said: "Alongside the investment already announced by the Welsh Government, Cardiff and Vale UHB is now planning to make significant additional investment in orthopaedics in 2011/12, both to put these services on a sustainable footing and to tackle the backlog of cases which has unfortunately built up."

Source: WalesOnline.co.uk

 

 
 
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The Operating Theatre Journal, OTJ, is published monthly and distributed to every hospital operating theatre department in the UK. The distribution includes both the National Health Service and the Private Sector.

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