Farming is in Andrew Oliver’s blood. His farm on Gower has been in the family for decades, but he is no longer able to work on it as he once did. Andrew is waiting for two hip replacements, and it could be a long wait.
Overlooking one of their fields, he said that he is about a year into a possible two-year wait to see a surgeon, after which he could face a wait of two to four years for surgery. In total, it could be a wait of more than six years.
“The biggest thing in my head - I was such an independent person, and I would get everything done that I needed to do and I can’t do it”, Andrew said.
For his wife Emma, a lot of the work on the farm now falls to her, with help from her older son.
“When someone is in constant pain, and you have a young family as well and a farm to run - it’s quite frustrating”, Emma said.
And this is the scale of the problem - figures released today (Jan 19) by Stats Wales show 56% of referrals are being seen within 6 months, 21% between 6 months and a year, but 7% - are, like Andrew, waiting more than two years. Though that is a slight improvement on the month before.
The Welsh Government said it has invested £680 million to transform planned care - paying for things like new equipment and staff to help.
Meanwhile, Swansea Bay University Health Board, where Andrew will receive his treatment, is building three new operating theatres at Neath Port Talbot Hospital, and putting aside ten beds in Morriston Hospital for the longest waiting orthopaedic patients, as part of their plans to deal with the backlog.