Swansea claims progress for knee and hip ops

Getty Images Knee replacement joint imageGetty Images

Latest health maps for hospital waiting times show patients in Swansea were still waiting far longer than average in Wales for knee and hip replacements.

The city already had the worst waiting times for 2021-22.

The situation worsened considerably in the following year and patients faced waits of at least two-and-a-half years on average in 2022-23.

Swansea Bay health board said there had been “significant improvements” and its current position was “rapidly improving month-on-month” with average waits now under two years.

Patients faced, on average, a 961-day wait for a knee replacement in 2022-23 compared to the Wales-wide 421.

The lowest median wait was in Cardiff with 268 days while waiting times for knee replacements have risen sharpest in Pembrokeshire – trebling to a 754-day average in the past year.

Swansea’s average waiting time is more than twice what it was before the Covid pandemic.

The figures show a big jump in waiting times across Wales following Covid, but the average waiting time for a knee replacement has started to come down again in most places.

In Swansea, along with five other areas, the time waiting continued to climb in 2022-23.

The annual Health Maps Wales figures takes months to compile but brings together a lot of data and these include average waiting times for common procedures.

For hip replacements, average waiting times were longest again for Swansea patients – 927 days – followed by Merthyr Tydfil – 860 days – with both showing the largest increase on the year.

On average, patients waited 371 days in Wales.

For cataract procedures, the longest waits were in west Wales, with the highest in Pembrokeshire an average of 277 days.

This compares with an all-Wales average of 83 days and a low of 57 days in Torfaen.

But Torfaen has the highest median wait for tonsillectomies – 535 days – compared to a low of 65 days on Anglesey.

Swansea Bay health board opened three new operating theatres in June 2023 – after the period covered by the latest health map figures – costing £21m.

It said since then, waits for hip replacements had more than halved and waits for knee replacements had come down by a third.

Knee replacements are now down to an average of 664 days and hip replacements an average of 452 days.

“The figures referred to are a year old and don’t reflect the significant improvements already made and which are demonstrated in more up-to-date and published NHS Wales performance data,” said a spokeswoman.

“What’s more, our current situation is rapidly improving month-on-month.”

The health board said it had also managed to cut the number of patients waiting more than two years for surgery from just under 6,000 people a year ago to a little over 1,700 by the end of April.

It also has the best performance for cutting long waits for first outpatient appointments – the only health board in Wales having no-one waiting more than a year for the past six months.

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