More than half a million people are waiting for treatment on the Welsh NHS, as the impact of the pandemic on services continues to sink deeper.
As of November 2020, according to the latest statistics, 530,371 people were waiting for treatment. The number of patients waiting more than 36 weeks for treatment was 231,722 in November 2020, compared to 22,879 the year before.
Mr Richard Johnson, Director in Wales of the Royal College of Surgeons in England, said, “These figures are just devastating. A staggering number of patients – almost a quarter of a million - are now waiting more than 36 weeks to start treatment in Wales.
“Furthermore, there are more than half a million people on the waiting list overall. For many patients, a corrective operation is the best way to relieve debilitating pain and get people back up on their feet, back to work and enjoying life again.
“A huge waiting list has built up under the Covid-19 pandemic. Health Boards must start planning now for the recovery of surgery in Wales. We are calling on Welsh Government to urgently implement a clear strategy to eliminate the backlog, supported by sustained investment.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said its health and care services are under "intense and sustained pressure" due to the coronavirus pandemic and other winter illnesses.
"The number of people needing treatment for coronavirus is having a major impact on delivering NHS services, affecting waiting times," they added.
“The NHS is not immune to the effects of coronavirus itself – there are high levels of staff absences as people fall ill with the virus or have to self-isolate. Despite this our hardworking health and care staff are continuing to deliver high-quality care and protect the public in exceptional circumstances.
“We have made an extra £30m available this year to support urgent and emergency care services and increase resilience over the remainder of this financial year.
“The Health Minister has also set out a series of actions health boards can take to prioritise treatment for people, in order of clinical need.
“We continue to ask everyone to follow the rules to slow the spread of this awful virus – please stay at home; protect the NHS and save lives.
“If you need medical help in an emergency please do not put it off – call 999. If you have a health problem, contact your GP practice for advice.”