Cabinet Secretary Admits Meeting Target Waiting Times for Orthopaedics is “Plainly Unachievable”

Aberconwy AM, Janet Finch-Saunders has expressed her outrage and concern at the admittance by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services that bringing orthopaedic waiting times in the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board down to the national target of 36 weeks is “plainly unachievable” – even by September next year.


Janet said:

“Waiting times for orthopaedic treatments have been a huge concern over the past few years, where we have seen patients waiting over 130 weeks for hip or knee operations.

“It is of uptmost concern that the Cabinet Secretary himself does not believe that he can bring waiting times down to national targets in over a year’s time.

“Most would not consider this to be overly ambitious – it is purely about meeting already established treatment time targets! This utter lack of ambition is indicative of the laissez-faire attitude with which the Welsh Labour Government have managed the Health Board under special measures.


“With direct responsibility for the improvement of the Board, it is shocking that the Cabinet Secretary will even attempt to aim for his Government’s own targets. The people of North Wales deserve much better from their Government, and I do feel that the Cabinet Secretary must seriously consider his position.”










ON 12 JUNE 2018



Janet Finch-Saunders (Aberconwy): Will the Cabinet Secretary explain why the milestone requirement to provide evidence of continual sustainable improvement on referral to treatment times with no patient waiting longer than 36 weeks for treatment for Betsi Cadwaladr UHB between April 2019 and September 2019 excludes orthopaedics? WAQ76638 


Vaughan Gething: The specific milestone referred to in the framework relates to the period April 2019 to September 2019 and that no patient is waiting longer than 36 weeks for treatment with the exception of orthopaedics. This milestone is not achievable for orthopaedics within the timeline due to the transformational and service re-design work needed to develop a sustainable service. I am therefore not going to set an improvement target that is plainly unachievable.


However, I do expect to see sustained progress to reduce all RTT waiting times, including orthopaedic waits between now and September 2019 and beyond.  The health board is developing an orthopaedic plan, through discussion with clinicians and service users, that will provide the people of North Wales with sustainable orthopaedic services, and this has been shared with their Board.  The improvement framework includes specific milestones on developing and delivering the plan.



The number of patients waiting over 36 weeks for trauma and orthopaedics treatment has shot up by 56.7%  - from 2,125 to 3,331, including 279 waiting more than 77 weeks (compared to 0 in June 2015) and 29 waiting over 105 weeks [March 2018 – latest available figures -].